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This Concept Has Taken Off

Published: October 12, 2008 9:10 am ET

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To hear Doreen Dustin of Strathroy, Ontario tell it, there was no way to know a discussion with her daughters Kristy and Brandi around the kitchen table in 2005 would lead to a recognizable brand name slogan being put into liberal use throughout the continent.

But that's exactly what's happened in the three years since the inception of the 'Harness The Hope' catch phrase.

"I never dreamed of this becoming adopted so widely across North America," the wife of horseman Greg Dustin says of the promotional phrase in common use at harness tracks in Canada and the USA for fundraising race programs dedicated to breast cancer causes, including the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, and in the United States the Susan G. Komen Foundation. "It has just been a very gratifying and humbling thing."

"Coming up on the three year anniversary of the first use of this concept it's been a natural and terrific fit to partner up with the Mildred Williams International Women's Driving Series" says Series organizer Ann Curran. "The original mandate of the Series was to honour Mildred's memory as a pioneer female trainer and driver, and to raise awareness of the possibilities and contributions of women in harness racing. To piggyback onto such an important women's cause has been a real bonus for everyone involved."

There's been no shortage of proof of the impact of the Series appearances at Southwestern Ontario tracks in 2008. On July 5th Woodstock Raceway had it's most successful program of the year when the Mildred Williams Series was there in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

On October 5th at Windsor Raceway the cause was the Windsor and Essex County Wonderbroads Dragonboat Rowing Team comprised of women that have survived the affliction and the evening was an unqualified success as it played out before a full house in the track's top level dining area.

To date the proceeds from the Mildred Williams Series fundraising appearances at the continent's racetracks is measured in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. The third annual appearance in London is set for Friday, October 17th. The first two events at Western Fair raised over $14,000 for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation where the "Harness The Hope" concept began.

Doreen Dustin, Kristy Dustin, Brandi Dustin and Ann Curran received the exemplary volunteer awards from the Foundation at its inaugural banquet earlier this year.

"The generosity and enthusiasm of people this year is at the same level, or higher, than the first two years we had this fundraiser at Western Fair," Dustin says. "Take for example the $2 bracelets that have been sold in advance by literally an army of women volunteering in the London area and over to Woodstock . They've sold hundreds of them this time around which has been incredible.

"I am a survivor of the disease myself and in the aftermath many of us devote ourselves to raising awareness about breast cancer," she added. "It's all about raising awareness. If we can get just one more woman to get a mammogram and help the Foundations and breast cancer causes then it's mission accomplished."

Dinner tickets at $50 per person are available from Western Fair by calling 1-800-619-4629 (ext. 252) or at guest services in the main floor lobby. The dinner package includes a roast beef dinner, race program, door prize and a surprise gift. The October 17 fundraising activities will also include a penny auction greeting race fans on the main floor and a silent auction in the Top Of The Fair dining room.

Great Monday Veterans

A pair of ageless and indestructible veterans looks to be well positioned for profitable outings this Monday afternoon at Western Fair.

C Ws Special made a huge gate rush into the pocket last week and took down the runner-up share in last Monday's Preferred 2 Pace. The 52-time career winner of $528,000 isn't likely to be 14-1 again this week as he's drawn Post 1 in Race 11. Bruce Richardson was named to drive by conditioner Ken Fritsch for owners Carol and Pat Dwyer of Elmwood, Ontario.

Prolific local legend Bridge Street has drawn the trailing Post 8 in a $10,000 purse conditioned test in Race 10 on Monday. The career winner of $640,000 is taking class relief for this event with Alex Lilley named for bike duty by trainer Scott McNiven on behalf of London area owners Shirley Griffin and Tom Brodhurst. Bridge Street goes to the gate Monday in search of his 57th career win.

The Monday card is stacked again this week with top class events which also includes the $15,200 Mares Preferred Pace where $900,000 career winner Luck Of Michelle starts from Post 7.

Monday's Preferred Pace in Race 12 has attracted a field of seven starters for a $16,100 purse. The $18,400 Preferred Trot, which is carded as Race 4, will see track record holder Brawn Seelster go up against an accomplished veteran field including Locofoco N, Wide Angle Hanover, Stonebridge Diablo and Indiana Hall.

Accompanying the Monday live card at Western Fair on Canadian Thanksgiving it's Family Day with the children's and family activities starting at 2:30 p.m.

Through December Monday and Tuesday afternoon post time at Western Fair is 3:05 p.m. Friday and Saturday evening post time in London is 7:05 p.m.

(Western Fair Raceway)

To view Monday's entries, click here.

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