Over the course of my time working in and around horse racing I've gotten to meet a lot of really great people. Paul and I have gotten to cover different races for different people and groups and we've almost always had amazing experiences. But during our time in racing there are few people we have met that have been better to us than Stephen Panus. For those of you who may not know Stephen, he is the President of America's Best Racing. If you watch racing on television, you have undoubtedly seen their branding and their commercials. You've even seen them as an advertiser right here on Barstool.
Stephen is legitimately one of the nicest people you could ever met, just a genuinely good human being. Over the years he and I became good friends because of our past careers as lawyers, our love of horse racing and good bourbon. Stephen was there whenever I needed a ticket for me or my Dad to a sold out race, or event. Stephen Panus is a great guy and one of the first things any one who knows him would say about him is, he's a family man. That's why this blog is the hardest thing I've ever had to write. Over this past weekend, Stephen and his wife Kellie tragically lost their sixteen year old son, Jake, in a car accident. When Paul and I heard the news, we were absolutely devastated. There is no way to imagine what they are going through, but in typical Stephen fashion, he is using this awful experience to try and extract some good. The Panus family has established the Jake Panus Scholarship Fund. This fund is going to benefit the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. You can read the information for yourself, but this is one of the most impoverished places in the country, with incredibly high mortality rates, and a 70% drop out rate.
Jake had done volunteer work with his church out on the reservation last summer. He worked with the children on the reservation. The experience was a big one for him. He wanted to do more with the children on the reservation. In some way, this is his chance to do more. I don't want to disappoint him.
I didn't know Jake Panus personally, but I felt like I did, through his Dad. Jake was a fan of a lot of the same things we all are. He was a football player, an excellent student and someone with an incredibly bright future ahead of him. While he may no longer physically here with us to help the children of the Pine Ridge Reservation, he is still doing his work for them. He is just doing it through us. So, I'm asking you to give what you can. Every dollar helps.