Speedway racing fans and student football players are invited to head down to the Stateline Speedway in the town of Busti Saturday evening to enjoy some adrenaline-pumping racing, while at the same time donating to a foundation named after a late high school football player from Brocton.
Stateline will play host to an event called the "Race for Damon," named after 16-year-old Damon Janes who lost his life last September as a result of a head-on collision during a local high school football game. The speedway's co-owner, Lynne Catania, spoke to the OBSERVER about the upcoming race, which will honor Damon throughout the evening.
"We (my husband and I) went to school with Penny, Damon's mother, in Westfield, so we all kind of came from the same area," Catania said when asked how the Race for Damon came together. "Also, the other connection is that Damon is (famous longtime Stateline driver) Dick Gilbert's great-grandson, so that hit close to home as far as that regard was concerned; that was an extended family type of situation.
"We felt that there was something we could do to help (Damon's parents) find some kind of purpose, if there's anything we could find good that could come out of this tragic situation. It's something that's kind of touching and has us trying to reach out to the community."
The evening of racing will feature Super Late Models, Crate Late Models, Sportsmen, Street Stocks, Limited Late Models, E-Mods and Challengers. This event will also cap off the 2014 weekly racing series at Stateline, with champions to be announced and fireworks at the end.
Chautauqua County Legislator Ron Lemon will be at the event to wave the green flag.
Damon's brother will ride a motocross bike with an American flag during the national anthem as motocross biking was one of Damon's passions.
Catania said the event should not only help raise awareness about sports-related head injuries, but football players who wear their jerseys will have half of their admission cost go to the Damon Janes Foundation - a recently-formed nonprofit dedicated to funding research for traumatic brain injuries.
The Westfield-Brocton football team will be there running a helmet campaign for people to donate additional funds to the foundation.
"I would love nothing more than to pack the stands with football jerseys there, supporting the cause," Catania noted. "I think it would do everybody's heart good knowing that everyone is in support of doing what we can to help bring awareness to sports-related head injuries."
Representatives from Pittsburgh-based MedLogic, a company that raises awareness about concussions and invented the InfraScanner, will also be in attendance at the event to help educate about head injuries.
"The InfraScanner is a portable, infrared scanning device that takes information and will actually, on the sidelines, determine bleeding on the brain," Catania explained. "This FDA-approved device has extremely good accuracy and is currently used in Ohio. Getting it for use in New York is going to be a bit of a barrier, but hopefully we can help with that through the Damon Janes Foundation."
Gates on Saturday are set to open at 5 p.m., with the race beginning at 7 p.m. Admission prices are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $6 for students and children under the age of five are free.
The address of the speedway is 4150 Kortwright Road in Busti. It is now under the operation of Short Track Management LLC. For more information about the speedway, visit www.racestateline.com.
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