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GBMC increases its partnership role in Legacy Chase

With each passing year, the Greater Baltimore Medical Center Foundation becomes more involved with the Legacy Chase at Shawan Downs, and that's perfectly fine with Charlie Fenwick.

A founding member of the Land Preservation Trust that saved the 300-acre rolling tract of farmland near Hunt Valley from development in 1997, and led to its development as a top-flight equestrian center, Fenwick has been an integral part of establishing ties between the organizations.

"GBMC has done a great job of building a relationship with us," said Fenwick, a famed former steeplechase rider and now owner of Valley Motors in Cockeysville, "and recently they have become even more engaged as a partner."

The 14th Annual Legacy Chase, slated for Saturday, Sept. 27, will boast as many "as six or seven races," depending on how many entrants there are, according to Fenwick.

Most will be steeplechase races, although Fenwick said there could be one flat-track race as well.

The feature race, the Legacy Chase, boasts a $20,000 purse.

Gates open at 10 a.m. and opening ceremonies are at noon for what is expected to be a crowd of 5,000 or more fans to watch the races. The day will include a variety of food trucks, a display of the Fire Museum of Maryland's vintage 1947 Mack Flood Light Wagon and a chance to meet the Baltimore Oriole Bird and his feathered friend, Poe, of the Baltimore Ravens.

Tickets can be purchased at the gate or on GBMC's website, gbmc.org.

In essence, the GBMC Foundation is renting the site for a day from the Land Preservation Trust and giving proceeds from the event to the oncology services at GBMC HealthCare.

GBMC has also stepped to the plate by providing parking, security and managing all of the activities surrounding the races.

Fenwick said that then-Baltimore County Executive Dutch Ruppersburger in 1997 called the Shawan Downs site "the gateway to Baltimore County" when 175 people chipped in at least $10,000 apiece to buy the land that can never be developed.

Moreover, the land has been transformed into an equestrian center that hosts several events during the year.

The Legacy Chase, however, has been by far the biggest draw from a fan's perspective, emerging as a fall alternative to the prestigious Maryland Hunt Cup, which is held annually on the last Saturday of April.

From cancer survivors' and their families' perspective, the event has been a good way to fund oncology services at the GBMC HealthCare System.

One such grateful person, Nancy Amato, is not only lucky to have survived a bout with colon cancer, she had the good fortune to have the disease discovered while being tested for a kidney transplant to her sister. 

"In a way, my sister saved my life," Amato said. "She's the reason I did the testing."

Amato was treated at GBMC by oncologist Dr. Paul Celano and underwent surgery by Dr. George Apostolides at the Towson hospital.

The Nottingham resident also received chemotherapy from July of 2010 to December of the same year.

"I'm a GBMC girl all the way," said Amato, who will volunteer at the event.  "For me, it was almost like coming home."

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