Being a Brand Ambassador for “the Greatest Game,” living in the epicenter of Thoroughbred racing … this whole thing sometimes still seems like a dream. Just a little over a month ago, on the afternoon of Dec. 8, 2012, I walked across the stage at Georgia College and State University and received my diploma. While I had always expected my college graduation to be an exciting moment, it was even sweeter than I had expected. Not only was I walking with a job, but it was one that I couldn’t imagine a more perfect fit.
While in college, I participated in the Disney College Program where I worked as a cast member at Animal Kingdom’s Flame Tree Barbeque. That following summer I interned at “LIVE! with Regis and Kelly” in New York City as production assistant. While interning, I gained experience in a fast-paced live studio environment working alongside producers, talent and various staff where I assisted with segment productions, basic office duties and more. I also worked as a social media manager for Atlanta Wine School. Networking, creating your own opportunities, talking to everyone you meet, expanding your horizons and keeping all your options open are a few of the many things I gained from my Disney College Program experience and internship at LIVE! You truly never know when or where you’ll meet someone who can help change the course of events in your life. The Disney College Program and “LIVE!” helped me decide to go into Mass Communications. They helped to broaden my horizons and gave me the extra push I needed. I became a better communicator, more well rounded, I stepped out of my personal boundaries and, as corny as it sounds, I was able to ‘find my calling’ — I HAD to become a communicator and share my passions with others.
Just as I was about to give up the endless job search one night in November, I decided to log onto Facebook. Fortuitously, I saw a post that NYRA had shared about the ABRV tour, immediately clicked through, read the job description and was sincerely stunned! I actually had to read the job description over a few times, for this golden opportunity sounded like it was written specifically for me. I immediately called my parents to tell them that I had found my dream job and that I was going to try my hardest to be on that bus when it rolled out of Lexington in March. As soon as we hung up, I immediately began planning my introduction video and storyboarding what I wanted to do.
The idea of attracting, building and maintaining a younger (desperately needed) audience to a noble sport with a rich, storied history that I absolutely love, is exciting.
GAROFALO TOURING THE LEXINGTON FARMS
I’ll get to travel crisscrossing the county, attend the biggest event days in the game (and other top events), constantly mingle with a spectrum of humanity and given opportunity to capture people’s attention through sharing video content, contributing stories and engaging with people on social media. … It going to be wild ride!
Since my family lived strategically close to Belmont Park and Aqueduct and a seemingly short four-hour drive to Saratoga Race Course while I was growing up, I’ve blessedly been enjoying horse racing since NYRA’s 1990 spring meet. Logically, most people consider their hometown the geographical place they spent the most time in growing up—although I moved from the great state of New York at the mere age of 7, I’ve never been able to fully come to terms with calling myself either a ‘Georgia Peach’ or ‘Southern Belle’ — everything New York is engrained in me.
JUMP START PROGRAM FOR RACING FANS
Since the school year runs differently in the south, I would look forward to strategically planning my vacation getaway to Saratoga, so that I could squeeze in as much of the meet as possible and still make it back to school in time. Fortunately, I've hardly missed a single summer in 22 years without attending the fabulous social scene and races in Saratoga.
A FATHER-DAUGHTER DAY AT THE TRACK
I know that along with the rest of the ABRV team, I hope to instill and inspire the deep passion and love for the sport unto countless others, so that they will experience it in a way that becomes something they too can’t imagine life without. I love that within the wide and wild spectrum and spectacle of Thoroughbred racing that there is definitely something applicable to every person. (I'll Bet on It!) Whether one wants to dress to the nines and parade around just to see and be seen, kick back and relax with family and friends for a fun day at the track, studiously handicap the card and make calculated bets, or simply just watch and enjoy the sheer beauty of racing—no other sporting event can offer all of this.
I’m stoked to get on the road, meet people from all walks of life and turn them on to a sport that not only is rich in it’s own history but that holds so many of my fondest memories. I love that I’ll get to interact with people in many social settings and relish getting them involved and immersed in racing so they become hooked, seeing them experience something magical for the first time and falling head over hooves in love with it (pun intended).
A familiar horse tale in our house: When I was a mere three months old my parents took me out to Belmont Park and my mother urged my (losing) dad to let me point to a horse on the racing form and then to bet one it—as luck would have it that first $2 bet was a winner.