Senior center’s ‘race night’ raises big bucks

Brooklyn Daily
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And they’re off!

The Bay Ridge Center held a Night at the Races fund-raiser where old and young alike could bet on the ponies for a good cause on June 6. Now in its fifth year, the center’s biggest fund-raiser raised thousands of dollars and showed it has more staying power than a well-watered thoroughbred.

“Bay Ridge and Bensonhurst knows how to support our seniors,” said Donna McClellan, a member of the center’s board of directors.

At the event, center supporters bet on a series of televised horse races or tried their hand at other games of chance — and when they lost, the seniors won.

It may be the only chance to see a priest take bets.

“Yes, I do actually sell the tickets for the horse races,” said Rev. Paul Knudsen, pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church, which founded the center in 1976.

Proceeds from the Night at the Races support senior programs and Meals on Wheels, according to Samantha Churak, a director at the center.

The house is still tallying the take, but Knudsen was confident the takeaway will break five digits.

Area eatery Greenhouse donated the dinner, and Mullane’s Bar and Bay Ridge Bakers sent over some gratis wine and desserts, Churak said.

The center also raffled off gift baskets and wine, and one lucky veteran even walked away with $10,000 from the Center’s 50-50 raffle.

“It was fitting that on the anniversary of D-Day, a vet and member of the American Legion should win,” Churak said.

Local politicians stopped by to show their support. State Sen. Marty Golden (R–Bay Ridge) and Rep. Michael Grimm (R–Bay Ridge) dropped by, and Councilman Vincent Gentile (D–Bay Ridge) gave the betting wheel a spin — though he didn’t take any winnings, Churak said.

The pastor was pleased the pols passed through.

“It’s nice they thought enough of us to come by on a Friday night,” Knudsen said.

Reach reporter Max Jaeger at or by calling (718) 260-8303. Follow him on Twitter @MJaeger88.
Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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