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San Juan County Supports AZTECSTRONGSJC Scholarship Drive


Lonnie Barber-Racing Manager Picks Winning Raffle Tickets for Scholarships

Saturday, June 16th, Sunray Park & Casino hosted Aztec Strong Day with substantial success. Both volunteers and the community showed up generously donating and purchasing raffle tickets to support AZTECSTRONGSJC. This non-profit group spearheaded by Casey Jordan's Family and the New Mexico Horseman's Association exceeded their goal of $6,000. Although money is still being donated, the sum is at approximately between $11,000 and $12,000. A total of 26 scholarships were awarded. Six were for $500 each. The remaining 20 will amount to at least $1000 each. Scholarships were available to two students from each of the ten high schools in San Juan County. However, there were no students from Rocinante nor Kirtland High School who attended. Wanda Johnston, AZTECSTRONGSJC President said regretably, "They lost out," and hopes students from the two high schools will attend next year for the 2nd Annual Event. The only requirements for being awarded one of these scholarships were to be a 2018 graduate of an accredited high school in San Juan County, be enrolled to attend a post-secondary educational institution and be present to win. Basically, students filled out information with the school they graduated from, the school they will be attending, their names, addresses and phone numbers, then they were randomly drawn from a box for each scholarship in front of the spectators. The money awarded will be dispersed to the school they will be attending in that students name.

The event was filled with dedicated volunteers including family and friends in memory of Casey Jordon, the Senior student who lost her life in last year's Aztec High School Shooting. The connection to the venue is that she loved horses and grew up around the racetrack. With the overwhelming success of the fundraiser, Wanda, Casey's grandmother, went down the list expressing heartfelt gratitude to the New Mexico Horseman's Association, the Blanket Sponsors, the jockey's, the volunteers, the school administrations, Sunray Park & Casino, people who donated items, all of the attendees and everyone involved.

The raffle items donated ranged from a kids games to 30 bales of hay, float and fishing trips to paintings by local artist Tim Cox. Mr. Cox's children attended AHS and Ms. Cox felt a need to offer up something more than prints to support this worthy cause. Several businesses donated gift certificates. Others from around the community also a range of items. Sunray Park & Casino Marketing Director Tony Montano related that he estimated between 300 to 500 individuals attended this event. In addition, supporters were spending as much as $300 just purchasing raffle tickets at $1 each or 6 for $5. He was especially pleased along with many others at the overall success of our community and a business working together hand in hand.

L-R. Chandler Paxton. Tori Riddice. Kim Bixler. Alexia Martinez Volunteer to Sell Raffle Tickets for AztecStrongSJC.

Lonnie Barber, Sunray Park Race Track Manager assisted by randomly picking raffle tickets from the simple 5 gallon orange buckets while the crowd awaited the next winner. Vicky Martinez was overjoyed to win a Float & Fish Trip and Barbara Padilla merrily voiced her enthusiam at winning 30 bales of hay. Debra Cugnini and Joann Kinder were more than delighted to win the authentic Tim Cox original 2008 painting "Summer Breezes." People were excited about their winnings. Students and their families greatly appreciated their scholarships. Volunteers saw the fruits of their labor helping young adults reach their goals. All the while Casey Jordon was close in our community's hearts inspiring worthwhile accomplishments by those she loved. Donations are already being received for next year's event. SAN JUAN COUNTY IS AZTEC STRONG! See next weeks TALON for scholarship recipients and final award amounts.


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