All proceeds from the Shriners Chariot Races benefit the children of Shriner’s Hospitals. Those who are not able to attend in person and are watching the live broadcast on SVI Media are encouraged to donate to the cause as you are able. Donations can easily be made via Venmo to the account @AftonShriners-CariotRace. Please be sure to put ‘donate’ in the description.
Shriner’s Chariot Races, held annually to raise funds to support families facing medical expenses incurred by children with medical needs, are scheduled to take place Feb- ruary 18, 19 and 20 at the tracks west of Afton.
According to shrinerschildrens.org, “Shriners Hospitals for Children is a network of 22 non-profit medical facilities across North America. Children with orthopedic conditions, burns, spinal cord injuries, and cleft lip and palate are eligible for care and receive all services in a family-centered environment, regardless of the patients’ ability to pay.”
Eighteen chariot teams are expected to participate from Wyoming, Idaho and Utah.
Gates open at 9 a.m. Saturday morning at 1489 Allred Road in Afton. Racing begins at noon. Admission runs $10 for spectators 13 and older. Children under 13 are admitted free of charge.
The public is encouraged to attend and enjoy the events of the weekend as well as donate to the cause if possible.
“It’s like a tailgate party,” explained Tomi White, Afton Shriner’s Committee Secretary. “The track is open fields and people can bring their lawn chairs. We do have a set of bleachers which is generally where people who are betting will sit, but anyone can bet standing along the rail.”
Last year, this event raised $42,000 that went directly to the Shriner’s Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. These funds make it possible for children to receive the medical care they need without concern for the bill that typically follows.
“Down at the track, we have food vendors and clothing vendors. It’s a big, huge family event running both Saturday and Sunday at noon.”
Saturday evening, participants and the public are again invited for a banquet at the Thayne Community Center. Meals are priced at $15 for everyone seven and older. Children six and younger eat free of charge.
Shrine clubs from Jackson and Utah come Saturday evening. “They explain what’s happened over the years with the hospital,” shared Toby Merrit, Race Committee Chair, in an interview with Duke Dance on the Weekday Wake-up February 7. “It’s pretty interesting. People should come and hear the stats and stuff that they bring with them – what the hospital actually does. It brings it more into perspective for everybody. The racers and the spectators should come Saturday and enjoy it. Again, it’s family oriented. It’s not just for adults. Kids can come of all ages.”
Families that have received medical and financial assistance from the Shriner’s Hospital Network, are invited to take the stand and share their story with the crowd at the event. Anyone who would like to share is invited to be part of the event by sharing their stories from the announcers booth.
Lou Scarlett, a Shriner from Jackson, shared his enthusiasm for the success of the Afton event on the Weekday Wake-up along with Merritt. “We are so appreciative to have these guys doing all this work to make it happen, not to mention all the competitors putting all their time and energy into it as well. As far as the Shriners, it’s just been a godsend for us. I know for anyone who has been to the Shrine Bowl and visited kids at the hospital, I’ll say it’s left an impression for life. And I’ve got to say, I’ve felt that same thing. It’s very, very rewarding.”
It takes an enormous team to prepare and host this event. Merritt, Scarlet and White are all appreciative of the support they have received from the public and from local businesses.
To learn more about getting involved with the chariot races as a racer, volunteer or to share their story about Shriners Hospitals, call Tomi White at 307-248-0606 or Jennifer Woody at 307-690-2538. Those interested in entering a team in the event can contact Tom Nelson at 307-248-3693.