A-Maze-Ing Race for ALS Cure
Written by Press Release
Wednesday, 01 October 2014 05:01

Big Horse Feed adds Ice Bucket Challenge to this month’s Corn Maze and Harvest Festival.

At Big Horse Feed and Mercantile in Temecula, serving the equestrian community’s feed, tack, gift and clothing needs goes hand-in-hand with serving the community at large.

The family-owned business’ annual Corn Maze and Harvest Festival has been a fixture on the Southern California calendar for 16 years, always delivering a mix of fun and fundraising for many good causes. Little League baseball and the military have been constant beneficiaries over the years, and several other charitable organizations have also been featured.

Inspired by this summer’s Ice Bucket Challenge craze and family and friends close to the Corona family who have been stricken with the dreaded disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) research will receive the majority of funds raised at this years Corn Maze and Harvest Festival’s 5K run, along with several past military non-profit organizations. The elaborate corn maze, which takes about an hour to navigate, and the festival run throughout October, with the A-Maze-Ing Race slated for Sat. Oct. 11. The A-Maze-Ing Race starts with a 5K run, then challenges the runners to make it through the maze, and finishes with the Ice Bucket Challenge.

“I had heard about the Ice Bucket Challenge, but I didn’t really put it all together until my sister-inlaw told me about having to get a video done by a certain time of her taking the Ice Bucket Challenge and its connection to ALS,” says Big Horse’s Rose Corona. “Her father, aunt and cousin had all had it.”

As the name of the family’s store implies, when the Coronas do something, they do it big. In that spirit, Rose took the recommendation of her sisterin-law in supporting Augie’s Quest Foundation and ALS-TDI in Cambridge, MA. “TDI” stands for

Therapy Development Institute and the non-profit company’s sole mission is developing drugs that will help prevent and cure the disease.

“We are the world’s largest drug development organization,” explains Adam Gracia, ALS-TDI development associate. “When people are really serious about supporting ALS research, they find us.” TDI’s plans for the $3.8 million received recently through Ice Bucket Challenge donations reflect its priorities. “Rather than put that in a rainy day fund, we’ve used it to push forward by two years the pace for getting a drug we are optimistic about closer to the clinical trial phase,” Adam explains. The funds have also allowed TDI to expand its “precision medicine program” from 25 patients to a few hundred. The precision medicine program involves taking stem cells from ALS patients, culturing them and then testing drugs on each specific subset of ALS.

About every 90 minutes, a new diagnosis is delivered and another life is taken. Approximately 30,000 people have ALS. Compared to cancer, that’s a relatively small population. And that means forprofit pharmaceutical companies don’t have the financial incentive to spend what can range from $30 to $50 million to test and develop promising drugs. The scenario creates what’s known in the industry as an “orphan disease,” Adam explains. “That’s the void that TDI is trying to fill by pretesting drugs to find out which have the most potential for a full-scale clinical trial.”

For the most part, Adam continues, research has only been able to test drugs on “familial ALS,” the 10 percent of cases that can be traced to a genetic indicator. The other 90 percent are “sporadic ALS,” and TDI’s precision medicine program enables researchers to test drugs on this more prevalent type.

The A-Maze-Ing Race is “definitely one of the most unique fundraisers we’ve been involved with,” says Gretchen Simoneaux of Augie’s Quest. The Orange County-based Augie’s Quest was founded by Augie Nieto and his family, following Augie’s ALS diagnosis in 2005. The organization has raised over $40 million through a network of events throughout the country and all proceeds are directed to ALS-TDI.

There’s a good chance Anthony Carbajal, of recent Ellen show fame, will be a celebrity guest at the A-Maze-Ing Race on Oct. 11. A Temecula resident, Anthony was diagnosed with ALS six months ago. The 26-year-old’s viral video blends irreverent humor with heartbreaking footage of Anthony caring for his ALS-stricken mother and his response to his own diagnosis. Anthony has tentatively agreed to participate in this event hoping to use his new found celebrity to bring attention to cures for this disease.

A Month Of Fun & Fundraising

In addition to the A-Maze-Ing Race, there’s a month full of family fun on tap at Big Horse Feed in October. The first weekend features a classic car show with celebrity appearances from Mike Henry and Kevin Mack of the History Channel’s Counting Cars. The following weekend, along with the A-Maze-Ing Race, salutes the military.

“Because without them we would not be able to do anything in this country,” Rose states. The Gary Sinise Foundation, The Special Operations Warrior Foundation, the Medal of Honor Foundation, the VFW and the U.S. Marine Corps have been in the past and will continue to be special Big Horse benefactors this year.

“Take Me Out to the Ballgame” is the theme for week three of the Corn Maze and Harvest Festival. In addition to encouraging kids to sign up for Little League baseball, they’ll be a tie-in with the 75th anniversary of the “I’m the luckiest man on the face of the earth” speech made by Lou Gehrig upon his retirement from the sport in 1939. The “Iron Horse” Yankee baseball star died of ALS, at 38, just two years after that speech.

The final weekend of October is “Old Fashioned Farm Day.” Potato sack races, pig races and “all kinds of farm and family related fun will be going on,” Rose explains.

Throughout the year Big Horse Feed & Mercantile offers a huge array of horse, pet and farm animal feeds, tack and equipment, clothing and gifts galore. Education and access to farming life is another year-round offering. As its motto says, “It’s more than just a feed store.”

To register for the A-Maze-Ing Race, visit www.active.com. For more information on the Corn Maze and Harvest Festival schedule and on Big Horse Feed and Mercantile, visit www.bighorsecornmaze.com.