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Jockeys collect toys for local children's event at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino

Jockeys may be small in stature, but they have huge hearts. They are always willing to step up and help with community-minded projects and when called upon to collect toys for a local children’s event, they stepped up in a big way to ensure area kids would have a little nicer Christmas.


“As a kid, I always wanted to have a lot of toys and sometimes I didn’t, so it’s very important to me to help make sure kids have toys for Christmas,” said Marcelino Pedroza Jr., who is the 2019 leading jockey at Indiana Grand. “My wish is for everyone to have a good Christmas and God has blessed me so I like to help out any way I can.”


A total of 54 toys were collected for the upcoming “Breakfast with Santa” held at the Shelby Parks and Recreation in Shelbyville, Ind. The annual holiday gathering for area children isn’t until Saturday, Dec. 14, but with the conclusion of the 2019 racing season at Indiana Grand nearing, the jockeys decided to give early.


Jockeys surrounded the pile of toys during the racing program Saturday, Nov. 2 for a photo before the toys were loaded up for delivery. New toys collected by the jockeys ranged from dolls, stuffed animals and My Little Pony sets to dump trucks, dinosaurs and Spiderman figures.


Included in the photo were Marcelino Pedroza Jr., DeShawn Parker, Albin Jimenez, Luan Machado, Angel Serpa, Orlando Mojica, Rodney Prescott, Eddie Perez, Fernando De La Cruz, Santo Sanjur, Ezequiel Lara, Shanley Jackson, Virginia Tormey, Kendal Sterritt and Jose Riquelme. Other jockeys participated in the drive but were not available for the photo included Natasha Fritz and Leandro Goncalves. Steve Cahill, clerk of scales, was instrumental in organizing the toy drive and was also present for the photo.


“You can’t say enough about these jockeys, they all have such generous hearts,” said Cahill, who recently was the recipient of a shaved head by the jockeys after they raised $3,100 for cancer. “No matter what we ask of them, they step up to the plate and they have such an affinity for children. Anything they can do to help out the community, they are very willing to participate.”


“Breakfast with Santa” will be catered once again by Denny’s this year. The gymnasium is completely transformed into a winter setting and includes various children’s activities. Each session includes a visit by Santa Claus. Two servings are held for the breakfast at 8:30 a.m. and again at 9:30 a.m. For more information on “Breakfast with Santa,” contact the Shelby Parks and Recreation office at (317) 392-5128.


Shelby Parks and Recreation offers numerous programs throughout the year for both children and adults. The family-oriented facility is located at the Carl McNeely Civic Center on Tompkins Street.