A visit to Georgian Downs to watch live harness racing earlier this week was a wish come true for a special guest.
In a visit orchestrated by the Senior Wish Association, Georgian Downs hosted racing fan Ned Soulliere and his wife Linda for a special night at the track on Tuesday. A dead-heat in the evening's first race dedicated to Soulliere added to the excitement of his visit as he joined the winner's circle celebrations, flanked by four-year-old pacing mares Better Kissthe Men and Wine And Cheese.
Georgian Downs, which has worked with the Senior Wish Association in the past, provided hats, betting vouchers, reserved lounge seating and facilitated a driver meet and greet and a paddock tour for the longtime racing fan.
"It means a lot," Soulliere, who moved to the Simcoe Manor retirement home after suffering a stroke, was quoted as saying in an Innisfil Today article. “I didn’t know all of this was going on, Sherri didn’t tell me anything. I’m impressed, it’s all very impressive. I like the horses, and it means a lot to me.”
The visit, which has been in the works for months, came about after Soulliere talked about wanting to see a horse race one more time with staff. Simcoe Manor’s Sherri Burke connected with Senior Wish Association Director Bonnie Neely to make that wish come true.
“It’s been meaningful,” said Burke. “Since COVID, he’s been asking for years when he’ll be able to go back to Georgian Downs because he misses the horse races. When Bonnie put it out there about the Wish Granting program, we jumped right on it because Ned was so excited about the idea of being back out here again.”
The Seniors Wish Association is a volunteer-run registered charity that supports seniors in the Barrie and Innisfil community through different programs, including wish granting to have a positive and lasting effect on their lives.
(With files from Innisfil Today & Senior Wish Association)