LQHBA Insider - By Martha Claussen July  25, 2024


Louisiana horsemen have experienced the highs and lows of racing and the wrath of Mother Nature through hurricanes, floods and other disasters. But few people would argue that the Coronavirus pandemic is the most overwhelming test we have ever faced.

To help guide us through this unprecedented challenge, we called on Chaplain Jimmy Sistrunk, whose Winner’s Circle Church has guided Louisiana horsemen and women for the past 17 years. The affable Sistrunk loves both people and horses and served as a volunteer for the church, located at Harrah’s Louisiana Downs for four years, before becoming its leader in May, 2003.

“We were just known as the Chaplaincy, but one morning the Winner’s Circle Church name just came to me,” recalled Sistrunk. “That’s where everyone in our industry wants to get to, so it just seemed to fit.”

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the weekly church services are on hiatus, but certainly not the outreach to those in need. Sistrunk delivers messages of faith and hope on his Facebook page and the comments from his Facebook followers show the impact of his positive messages.

In one of his recent sermons, Sistrunk spoke about how when faced with this crisis, it’s a natural response to worry, even panic about our health, our families, finances and the future of our racing industry. He knows that it is easy to lose our purpose, but calmly and with true sincerity, encourages us to band together, refuse to give into dread and fear, and rise to the challenge.

“Don’t lose your faith,” stated Sistrunk. “Really believe in God and don’t allow the enemy to rob you of your purpose.”

In addition to the power of prayer, we all need viable updates of this pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updates their website on COVID-19 with comprehensive data on symptoms, testing, treatment and recovery. The information is available in both English and Spanish.

The office of Governor John Bel Edwards offers a list of resources for Louisiana residents that encompasses a range of topics on COVID-19. Click on this link for updates on a full range of available programs and how to apply for assistance.

As we head into the month of April with uncertainty on the length of his pandemic and how it will affect our health and, of course, our upcoming race dates, we hope that spending time with family and greeting those precious, adorable, wobbly foals will give you some comfort.

Follow Chaplain Jimmy on his Facebook page (Jimmy Sistrunk) and please take the opportunity to post your own messages of hope and encouragement on the LQHBA Facebook page. The resilience of Louisiana breeders, owners, trainers, jockeys and backstretch workers is strong; let’s follow the guidance of Chaplain Jimmy as we keep our faith and find our way through this unparalleled chapter.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The LQHBA Insider is a monthly feature written by Martha Claussen for www.lqhba.com. She served as publicity director at Sam Houston Race Park for ten years. She continues to be active in writing, fan education and Quarter Horse racing publicity in Texas, Louisiana and other regions in North America.