07/27/2004 11:00PM

Program gives workers a hand

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CARENCRO, La. - Members of the local racing community, along with officials at Evangeline Downs Racetrack, have joined forces to create a relief program that will assist employees in all sectors of the racing industry.

The Racing Employees Assistance Program, or REAP, was patterned after the Backside Benevolent Fund (BBF), a non-profit organization formed years ago at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La. The program will offer relief such as financial assistance for medical care, food, housing, education, recreational activities, and job training.

"We are excited to institute this program at Evangeline Downs," said David A. Yount, Executive Director of Racing Operations for Evangeline Downs Racetrack and Casino and newly elected President of REAP. "The quality of the lives of all our employees is a top priority, and we are sure this will provide us with further opportunity to achieve this goal. The money we raise through this organization will remain here at Evangeline Downs."

Spokespersons on behalf of REAP have announced that their non-profit group will hold an inaugural benefit banquet (REAP - the Benefit) to help raise funds necessary to begin providing assistance to the employees. The banquet will be held Tuesday, Aug. 10 at the Holidome in Lafayette, and will feature a sit-down dinner, live entertainment, a silent and live auction, and a reverse drawing worth $5,000.

REAP is accepting either monetary or tangible donations to help promote the program and host the banquet. Those interested in donating to the cause, purchasing tickets, or volunteering their services should contact Evangeline Downs for more information at 337-896-7223.