The first ever Race for the Rescues barrel race took place last Saturday, April 28 at the Martin Arena in San Juan Bautista.
With over 70 participants competing, Race for the Rescues raised about $2,900, which will be divided between Pet Friends Rescue of Hollister, Heading Home of Santa Cruz, and Spay California Now of Salinas.
The event was started by Susan Pieterouiski who feels passionate about helping animals in need and barrel racing.
“The reason I did this is when you go to the barrel races, these gals bring their dogs with them and leave their husbands at home," Pieterouiski said. "It’s like the Westminster Dog Show."
Realizing that other people were passionate about animals and barrel racing themselves, Pieterouiski decided to create the Race for the Rescues event to help small, local animal rescues by donating 100 percent of the proceeds made to the selected organizations.
“I wanted to focus on the little guys that do good work,” Pieterouiski said.
Reaching out to local sponsors such as Valerios Welding Fabrication, Growers Express, and 101 Trailer Sales, Pieterouiski was able to get the funding to put the event on, as well as to have prize money to attract people to enter. The big draw for many participants, however, was that the barrel race raised money for a good cause.
“I love races for charity,” said participant Tammy Hoskins. “I love small animals and it’s close to home.”
In addition to barrel racing, the event included a raffle, silent auction, dog races, booths for the animal rescues being represented, and food by Blazin' Bayou BBQ out of San Juan Bautista. Blazin' Bayou BBQ will be donating 10 percent of their profits to the event.
When asked about their participation in the event, Blazin' Bayou BBQ Co-Owner Larae Huston said, “We got involved to give to the pets and rescues. We love pets and it’s a great cause.”
Pet Friends, which will be receiving part of the proceeds of the event, was also in attendance.
“This is the first time they’ve had this event,” said Sally Crisman, board member for Pet Friends. “The city and county do not give us money. It’s all private donations and fundraising events [that keep the rescue open.]"
Crisman explained that events such as Race for the Rescues help nonprofit animal rescues by giving organizations exposure to the community and by bringing awareness to local animal issues and services. Often times this also results in new volunteers offering their help.
Winners of the Open Division barrel race include Darby Fox in the First Division, Michelle Silva in the Second Division, Wendy Lozano in the Third Division, and Janel Flook for the Fourth Division. Sage Burke won the Youth Division.
Pieterouiski hopes to continue this event next year and challenged others to find a nonprofit they are passionate about in their communities to support.
“I challenge other people to get creative to raise money for their local nonprofits,” Pieterouiski said.