Giddy up! Horse-loving senior's wish granted at Georgian Downs - petsitterbank

Giddy up! Horse-loving senior’s wish granted at Georgian Downs

Seniors are ‘so often forgotten, so when we do things like this, it just means a lot to them and all of us too,’ said Senior Wish Association official

When Ned Soulliere mentioned to one of the staff members at Simcoe Manor that he’d like to go to a horse race just one more time, he never knew that wish would come true.

On Tuesday evening, Soulliere, who after suffering a stroke moved into the long-term home in Beeton, was surprised when Simcoe Manor’s Sherri Burke brought him and his wife Linda to Georgian Downs.

The surprise came together when Burke and Senior Wish Association Director/Treasurer Bonnie Neely got in contact with each other.

The Senior Wish Association is a charity founded in 2011 by Barb Richards after she recognized a large sector of the senior population in her community was lonely and isolated. Wanting to help make a positive impact on the seniors around Barrie and Innisfil, Senior Wish was formed.

As part of the organization’s work, they run a “Wish Granting” program that gives seniors in the area the chance to do something they love.

“Sherri heard about it and said they had a gentleman who wishes he could go to a race again, so we got it into motion and here we are,” said Neely. “They’ve put the first race of the night in honor of Senior Wish Association for Ned, and they’ll give him $20 to place some bets. They go out of their way for us. The businesses that support us are phenomenal and they always back us up and help us out.”

As part of the wish, Georgian Downs reserved an area in the lounge for Soulliere prior to the race where he got to sit up close before meeting the jockeys and taking a tour of the paddock.

“It means a lot,” said Soulliere. “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.”

Planning it for months now, Burke was excited to see it finally come to fruition and to see the grin on Soulliere’s face all night.

“It’s been meaningful,” Burke says. “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.”

This isn’t the first time Georgian Downs has been involved in making a wish come true, and the Senior Wish Association is a charity they love to lend a helping hand to.

“It’s a big part of our company,” said Barb Rafuse of Georgian Downs. “We have a program called PROUD, where we get involved in the community we’re in. So, when they came to me, instead of us looking for something to help with, it fell right in my lap. It was great, and personally, it’s big for me. Getting to be able to do this is great, I love it and it makes me feel good.”

Given the circumstances of the pandemic, the Senior Wish Association hasn’t been able to be out in full force in recent years, but Soulliere’s wish gave them the opportunity to grant one of their first wishes since 2019.

“With COVID the last couple of years we’ve been trying to get back out there again,” said Neely. “We deal mostly with long-term care homes, and we always put out to them that we grant wishes, and we’ll do anything within our means. They’ll put a request in and our board will approximate what that looks like and if we can do it, we pass it.

“Then I start working to put it all together. They’re little wishes but when you see their faces, that’s why we’re part of it. I usually get goosebumps and try not to get too teared up when you see how excited they are. That’s why we do what we do. They’re so often forgotten, so when we do things like this, it just means a lot to them and all of us too.”

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