by Michael Johnson
Smiles and laughter filled the halls of the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island Thursday when five of the New York Racing Association's best jockeys made their annual visit. The trip was in support of the RMHC, whose mission is to create, find and support programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children and their families.
The visit continued a tradition that is more than 20-years-old and is part of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival presented by NYRA Bets.
The jockeys helped the children up for pony rides, posed for pictures and handed out gifts, including their goggles. Among those in attendance was Hall of Famer John Velazquez, Javier Castellano, elected to the Hall of Fame, Jose Ortiz, Irad Ortiz, Jr. and Eric Cancel.
"The Ronald McDonald House of Long Island is one of Long Island's most respected nonprofit organizations, providing inspiration and hope to thousands of children and their families for decades," said Lynn LaRocca, NYRA's Senior Vice President and Chief Experience Officer. "NYRA and the entire horse racing community based at Belmont Park are proud to partner with RMHLI once again as we celebrate the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival."
Added Matt Campo, the RMH-LI President: "Jockey Day is a highly anticipated annual event here at the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island,". "During such a stressful time, it is a fun day that our resident families look forward to. Meeting the jockeys is always an exciting opportunity for the children and a much-welcomed distraction. We'd like to thank NYRA for their many years of support and dedication to our mission of keeping families close in the midst of their child's medical crisis. We wish the jockeys the best of luck at the Belmont Stakes."
The event comes at the kickoff of the three-day Belmont Stakes Racing Festival featuring world-class horse racing and musical entertainment.
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ABOUT 2017 BELMONT STAKES RACING FESTIVAL
The 149th Running of the Belmont Stakes, presented by NYRA Bets, on Saturday, June 10caps a three-day festival of world-class horse racing and entertainment. Belmont Stakes Racing Festival is comprised of 18 stakes offering more than $10 million in purses. The festival also features musical performances from multi-platinum recording artist Andy Grammer and the cast of the Broadway musical On Your Feet!