Tuesday, April 24, 2012



A THANK YOU from the organizers ~ 

       Fisher House provides free or low cost lodging to veterans and military families receiving treatment at military medical centers.
       A Fisher House is "a home away from home" for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers. The homes are normally located within walking distance of the treatment facility or have transportation available. There are 56 Fisher Houses located on 22 military installations and 20 VA medical centers. Many more houses are under construction or in design.

The Fisher House Auction was held at the Perth Amboy Racing Pigeon Club on the 27th of November 2011, and it was a HUGE SUCCESS. This was achieved because of an outpouring from the fraternity of the CU, IF, and AU Members, as well as, the Belgian & Dutch Pigeon Fanciers, thereby making this truly an International event. The pigeons that were donated,to say the least, were some of the best I have ever seen in one room; the excellent quality of these pigeons was evident by the high prices attained in the auction. The Co-Chairmen of this event were Eric J. Gioiosa and Stanley Krawiec, both Veterans and the driving force behind this auction/fund raiser for Fisher House.

We had a Super Event Team consisting of Bill Desmarais & his wife Paula, Lynne Earring, Henk Kuylaars, Big Andy Larenzatkis, Val Matteucci, Bill Mitiu, John Panek, Joey Perino, Edie Raia, Fred Smeltzer, and two of the Tyson Corner celebrities—Big Joe (Green) Swint & Vinnie (COACH) Torre, that made this event a great success. The Perth Amboy Club generously donated the use of their great clubhouse, in addition to a DOOR PRIZE of a bond for the PAOpen Futurity Race.

Additional generous prize donations included: bags of feed from Baden Feed in Canada, Vinnie Torre of Hoboken NJ, and Mike Bonomo of Staten Island. Also, Top SHELF Premium Wine from the Noble Brothers of California, a custom-made carrier from Mike Brazil of San Luis Obispo, CA, Chocolate Covered Delicacies from Kenny Larrey of Fresno, CA, and Pigeon Watches from Bill Desmarais & his wife Paula. The Desmarais’s also donated and hand-delivered the BIGGEST Live Lobsters you ever saw. Thank you ALL!

A very moving moment was when Bill Desmarais, AU Veterans Affairs Chairman, Vietnam Vet (Nov ‘68–Dec ‘69), Sergeant US MC presented Walter Lesnak (King Lou) 94 Years young, a watch & Fisher House Hero’s Medal in our little tribute to this veteran. He is a true HERO and was awarded in COMBAT the Silver Star, 3 Bronze Stars and the Purple Heart.  Upon him receiving the medal, the standing room only crowd broke into a thunderous applause.

Thanks to all that attended, thanks to the in-house buyers, and also to the on-line bidders on I-Pigeon. 

Eric J. Gioiosa, Linda W. Weiss (Medical Center Director of Albany Stratton VA Medical Center, Albany NY), Stanley Krawiec, Jerry A. Jensen (Manager of Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher House, Albany, NY) presented the check.

In closing, we would also like to give a BIG THANK YOU to Susan Lombard of Daybreak Design, Gene Yoes of the Racing Pigeon Digest, the American Racing Pigeon Union, International Federation of Homing Pigeon Fanciers, 
I-Pigeon and Anthony Sorrentino for their generosity in making this event such an overwhelming success to the tune of a contribution of $24,148.50 to the Fisher House of Albany, NY.

Thank you,
Stanley Krawiec & Eric J. Gioiosa

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


When It's For Cancer Research

by AU Historian Jim Greelis - Omaha, NE
Jim Greelis

The CURE team from the Omaha, NE area has gone to pink CURE bands to raise money for cancer research.  CURE stands for Cancer Unites Racers Everywhere and is a grass roots effort to raise chartable funds through a 501c corporation that also wants to enhance our sport's positive image.  The official name of the 501c is the Greater Omaha Racing Pigeon (GORP) club - and 2011 was their first year and they were able to donate their first $1,000 check to the Nebraska Medical Center (NMC) for breast cancer research.

In 2011 GORP bought 300 pink CURE bands from the AU and sold them for $10 each, auctioned off a few birds on a local website, encouraged local businesses to sponsor race birds, all with the goal to raise funds for their charity donation.  GORP is an AU registered club made up of made up of Omaha area flyers Randall Carney, Don Paltani, Walt Codney, Tom Sawyer Jr., and Igor Cherko.   Periodically they sponsor a GORP race and the shipping crate door is open to all flyers that are there for the sport's best interest and having fun doing it!

On February 20, 2012 when the first donation was made, the plan was to have a pigeon release at the same time and invite the local media, but a wet rainy day moved the presentation inside.  NMC's Gift Coordinator Judy Booth was disappointed not to see her first bird release but with another donation planned this year maybe the weather will cooperate.  Also present was AU Sport Development Manager Deone Roberts of Oklahoma City who presented the CURE team with a special plaque in appreciation for their good work.

Fly for the Fight

Another 2011 GORP success was their Fly for the Fight program that gave breeders and flyers an opportunity to win cash prizes - $1,500 was given away in prizes by flying CURE banded birds in club and combine races.  AU member Tom Miske of Norfolk, NE won $500 for the first CURE banded bird to clock in the Husker Hawkeye Combine One Loft race last October.  This incentive prize helped sell lots of CURE bands to combine members - all for a good cause!  A similar program is planned for 2012.

Future Campaigns

The GORP 2011 campaign was focused on raising funds for the fight against breast cancer, and 2012 will again focus on that charity with the sale of both AU and IF pink CURE bands at $15 each or 8 bands for $100.  In 2013 GORP intends to sell blue CURE bands to raise funds for the fight against prostate cancer.  In future years they'll focus on other cancer fights like pediatric, colon, or leukemia. 

AU vs. IF CURE Band Sales

It's intriguing to think about whether more AU or IF bands will be sold this year.  The AU has the larger membership but the IF has committed to actively promote the CURE bands to their membership.  I'm betting on my AU brothers and sisters to buy up the first 300 AU CURE bands before the IF membership does their 300.  But really I'm hoping that all the CURE bands are bought up this year.

I'm excited to follow this young 501c club having made its first donation and planning of bigger donations in the near future.  If you want to purchase bands, sponsor a CURE bird, learn more about the cash prizes in the Fly for the Fight, or make a tax deductible donation email Walt Codney at triplecloft@q.com or call him at 712-526-2318.  He's the good looking guy with the tie in picture.

L to R:  Randall Carney, Walter Codney, Don Paltani,
Judy Booth (Major Gifts Officer, Nebraska Medical Center)

Washington Fly In

Watching the Sport Die? 

Change the Channel!

by Steve Lawler, AU Past President

Steve Lawler
The Grange Hall meeting room in extreme NW Washington was filled with parents, tweeners, and teenagers busily setting-up wire cages and filling them up, while others carried in box after box of drawing prizes and bags and boxes overflowing with brunch snacks and proper lunch fixin’s. Even though the sun shone brightly outside on this fine Spring morning, it was no match for the brilliant enthusiasm exhibited in that hall.

Quicker than you can say “Jack Robinson,” several youngsters, stationed at two tables, were being quizzed by two young judges and were providing detailed and impressive facts in response to some difficult questions. Parents sat up close and hung on every word that these bright young people expounded. Their poise and subject knowledge were impressive.

Immediately afterward, five of the older members made quality presentations accompanied by informative charts, sharp photos and precise powerpoints.

Who are these guys?
What is so exciting indoors to keep Northwesterners INSIDE on a SUNNY day?
They are the Thunderbirds and SkyPilots of greater Whatcom County and King and Snohomish counties in western Washington.…they like homing pigeons and they are our future. AND, they haven’t heard the Pigeon Little cry that “the sky is falling” from the older generation of pigeon flyers. These youngsters are NOT holding on for dear life to a dying sport…..dying shmying! That outlook is reserved for those unwilling to make positive changes and go forth to share the joy and excitement this hobby brings. They are PROOF POSITIVE that young people are indeed interested in animals, in general, and pigeons, in particular. They live in every town, city, county, and state of the country.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of Jerry and Evelyn Guilmette of Bellingham and Herb Cartmell of Woodinville, WA and their respective county agents, the 4-H / AU Junior Flyer program is growing so fast that bigger facilities and more and more babies are needed to fill the demand of these young flyers eager to compete with the locals at their own game.

Compare that exciting scenario to the status of decline in most pigeon clubs around the area, and in many areas of the country, and the logical conclusion is????

As soon as the presentations finished, we were off to a scrumdilicious lunch with all the trimmings (procured by Marty Sullivan) and some bad-boy cupcakes (from Mrs. Strand) for dessert. All part of the club fundraiser and included in the small price of admission and ably collected by Evelyn Guilmette and Marlene Cartmell at the front table. 

Up next was a very informative powerpoint presentation by Herb Cartmell on Loft Construction with some accompanying great pictures Herb’s taken over the years while serving on the national AU Board.

The absolute highlight of the event, however, was “blue ticket” drawing:  All day long the 20 or so young fanciers in attendance (please note that this was an all day Saturday event and many had to schedule around soccer matches, dance recitals, and baseball games, etc.) had been scoping-out the over 50 squeakers housed in the show cages. Everyone had their favorites and back-ups listed and were poised to spring into action as soon as their number was drawn. The drama was intense as first one baby, and then another found a spot in the dozen or so crates spread out behind the anxious juniors. The groans were audible as favorites were selected by “luckier” ticket-holders. Blacks and whites and grizzles and reds and splashes went first, leaving most of the checks and plain old blue bars for the final rounds. A check of the race sheets later this year will show the real value of those later rounds.

By the time the dust cleared, every junior in the room had 3-4 youngsters to take home for settling. Chances were that many of those babies would spend at least the first night in the bedroom!

A big thanks goes out to Dave and Samantha (Sam), Breann, and Cheyenne Long of Spirit Lake, ID and the L and L Breeding Station for supplying the biggest draft of 33 babies brought clear across the state for distribution to the members of the Thunderbirds and SkyPilots. The Long’s are interested in forming a junior club (with AU dues paying parents and AU dues paying mentors) in their north Idaho - Stateline, WA area. A big effort was made to travel all the way to Lynden, WA to see these two growing groups in action.

Sam made the trip over (father Dave and sisters, Breann and Cheyenne, were in New Orleans that weekend) escorting the babies and caring for them until they found their new homes. She also made a couple of donations to the junior club treasuries by buying the breeding pair donated by Thunderbird leader, Jerry Guilmette, and one of the pedigreed YB’s donated by Concourse President, Ski Grabanski. Sam hopes to raise winners out of this new stock.

Thanks also need to go to Ski and Eileen Grabanski, who made the trip from the Greater Seattle area, bringing a basketful of babies for the juniors. Ron Pate of the Pahrump Breeding Station also sent along a big Express Mail box of babies for distribution. Ron has been supporting this SkyPilot junior club program with babies from the very beginning. And, thanks to Thunderbird leader, Jerry Guilmette, for donating some youngsters.

The wonderful day ended with a “yellow ticket” drawing of donated items from pigeon supplies from Siegel’s, Jedd’s and Tradewinds Feed to jars of honey to a pair of pigeon bookends from the legend, Elwin Anderson’s collection.

Bottomline, of course, is that growth and renewed enthusiasm is contagious. Doing something positive is always better than whining and complaining about the status quo and condemning those who are willing to step out, re-invest in the sport and make a difference. If you find yourself on the wrong side of this equation, please get out of the way and allow good things to happen in your club and in the sport.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                - Steve Lawler

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