Jaycees are staying busy

Raleigh organization runs volunteer projects, conducts networking activities throughout the year

Staff WriterApril 27, 2006 

  • WHAT: The Raleigh Jaycees' 14th Annual Brookhill Steeplechase.

    WHEN: Saturday, May 6. Grounds open from 10 a.m. to 6: 30 p.m. The first race begins at 2 p.m.

    WHERE: Brookhill Farms outside Clayton.

    HIGHLIGHT: Four horse races as well as contests for most original tailgating area and hat.

    COST: Ranges from $15 for a general admission ticket to $5,800 for a Winner's Circle tent that entertains 100 people.

    More information about the steeplechase is available at www.brookhillsteeplechase.com. To learn more about the Raleigh Jaycees, go to www.raleighjaycees.org.

— There's more to the Raleigh Jaycees than horses and turkeys.

Many people know the group from next weekend's Brookhill Steeplechase or the Turkey Shoot at the N.C. State Fair, two well-known fundraisers it holds every year.

The steeplechase draws up to 12,000 people to watch a series of horse races and mingle in their spring finest at Brookhill Farms outside Clayton. The Turkey Shoot at the fair's midway, meanwhile, offers people a chance to win a frozen turkey for shooting paper targets.

But the Jaycees, with more than 250 members from all over Wake County, also run a variety of volunteer projects throughout the year and organize social and networking events, said Jamilyn Cole, who handles publicity for the 74-year-old Raleigh chapter of the national Jaycees.

"There are activities nearly every day," Cole said.

This week's schedule, for example, includes a meeting with a Cub Scout troop; a bingo night for elderly Raleigh residents; a general meeting followed by a social gathering at a local restaurant; and a semiformal gala to benefit an outpatient cancer clinic.

General meetings are held at 7 p.m. the first and third Tuesdays of each month at N.C. State University's McKimmon Center. Anyone ages 21 to 40 is welcome to join, Cole said.

Lately, the Jaycees have been preparing for the steeplechase, said Peter Ansbacher, group president.

"We have a lot of volunteers working tirelessly on the event," Ansbacher said. "The finished project is incredible."

The race may see a change of venue in the next few years; Ray Earp Jr. and Winkie Worley, the sibling owners of the 652-acre farm where the event has been held since 1993, announced last year that they planned to sell the property to a developer for a subdivision. With the development still in its initial stages, the Jaycees have tentative plans to hold another steeplechase on the farm next year, member Will Stanley said.

The steeplechase is a major event for the Jaycees, but Stanley said the opportunity to meet people while doing some good through volunteer work is the major draw to the group.

"You get to get out and meet people in the community and make new friends," Stanley said.

Staff writer Sarah Ovaska can be reached at 829-4622 or sovaska@newsobserver.com.

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