Industry unites for Grays

Industry unites for Grays

This article was published in Greyhound Racing Victoria on 08 June 2022.

The greyhound racing industry has rallied as one behind Richard and Cheryl Gray and their three granddaughters after fire destroyed their Pyalong home last week.

The Grays lost everything (except the sleeping apparel they were wearing) when fire swept through the house, setting off alarms in a life-threatening situation around 2am on Monday.

Units from Pyalong, Hilldene, Glenaroua, Broadford and Kilmore fire stations were dispatched to the scene and 25 firefighters took around half-an-hour to douse the intense flames and bring the fire under control.

Sadly, the residence was demolished, with only the outside walls remaining. Nothing could be salvaged. What the fire didn’t get, the smoke and water got!

Subsequently, Metropolitan Fire Brigade forensic analysts determined rodents chewing through wires in the walls were the cause of the fierce blaze.

Traralgon greyhound racing stalwart Terri-Maree Morris first met Richard and Cheryl on Facebook in 2016 while her star sprinter Jesaulenko was forging a brilliant career.

Richard was a huge fan of the gifted speedster, which was an eight-time Group race finalist including victory in the 2017 G2 Traralgon Cup and runner-up in both the 2016 G1 Melbourne Cup and 2017 G1 Temlee.

They’ve met up a few times since and have become good friends.

So, when Richard messaged her to inform of the fire, Terri started the fundraising ball rolling.

“I said, ‘it’s time to hit Facebook and get the industry behind them’… I posted a request for help and targeted some of the bigger name trainers. I don’t like singling people out, but Deb Coleman has been fantastic.

“Funds have come from everywhere, including interstate and overseas.”

Terri advised that cash funds can be donated direct to the family’s bank account and a post office box has been set up for accepting clothing, toys, etc.

“I said, ‘it’s time to hit Facebook and get the industry behind them’.”

“Traralgon GRC raised $650 from its meat raffle last Friday and we’ve also posted up the three grandchildren a club hat and shirt,” Terri said.

“And I drove up on Saturday and gave the kids $50 each… We all had afternoon tea at the Old Kilmore Gaol.

“Shaeedyn, who is 10, was legally adopted by Richard and Cheryl when she was three weeks of age and they’ve since come into the care of two other grandkids, aged four and eight, through DHHS.

“She’s greyhound crazy, Shaeedyn, and loves helping with the dogs. She lost all her greyhound-related merchandise and, unbeknown to me, $50 she’d received from Richard for assisting him. Well, actually, picking up dog poo. So, she was over the moon when I gave her the money.”

Terri added GRV Chair Peita Duncan “has been fabulous”.

“Every time I’ve made a phone call, she’s responded and assisted… Richard had a couple of dogs being prepared for GAP, which have been fast-tracked, and they’re now in foster care.

“We’ve got two more dogs to transfer to other trainers. Whoever takes them won’t be disappointed, as they’ll win races.

“And I can’t say enough about the generosity of GRV, the Helping Hand Fund and GOTBA… We’ve all pulled together as one.”

Terri advised the Gray family were currently staying in a motel at Kilmore until they acquire a rental property.

“They lost all their greyhound photos and possessions, but Richard managed to save a greyhound pet named “Opal”, which was bottle-fed as a baby.

“I’m very proud of everyone, to see what one little Facebook post has achieved. People in the industry have been very generous and for those still wanting details on how to donate, they can find me on Facebook under Terri M Morris.”

Another compassionate lady instrumental in this fundraising effort is Singleton’s ‘greyhound social media queen’ Dimity Maher, who goes under the pseudonym “The Greyhound Girl”.

If the cap fits, wear it… Shaeedyn and her ‘canine model’ sporting “The Golden Girl” hat.

She programs podcasts, feature articles and personality profiles, and has a greyhound classifieds section on her website (dimitymaherracing.com).

Dimity met Richard and Cheryl through ‘Facebook interaction’ and when she noticed Richard had shared a post of the incident and the details of what happened, she swung into action.

“I put the call out on my social media platforms asking for anything to help the family. What started as one ‘breeding straw’ donation has now multiplied to 13. (In fact, GRV Chair Peita Duncan’s mother, Marilyn, has even donated a ‘straw’ from former staying star Rippin’ Sam.)

“I’ve also received a free breaking-in course and a greyhound products pack to auction.”

Dimity says Shaeedyn is “pretty much a clone of me when I was 10”.

“She wanted one of my “The Greyhound Girl” caps and after it was received, she sent me a photo of herself with the hat on one of her greyhounds. She also sent me a video thanking me for the hat.”

Dimity advised if people are interested in bidding for any of the ‘straws’, and items, they can go to her Facebook page.

“I’ve never stuck my hand out for anything in life,” a humbled Richard Gray said. “Terri found out about it, and it’s snowballed from there.

“There have been offers of furniture, food, clothes and toys – it’s almost been endless.

“GRV, GOTBA and the Traralgon and Bendigo clubs have been fantastic. It’s hard to keep up with everything.”

Ironically, Richard and Cheryl are accustomed to assisting people in their ‘hour of need’. They helped set up Blaze Aid, a charity/organisation for fence repairs after natural disasters.

And Richard has previously experienced the devastation and tragedy of a house fire. He was the first ‘firey’ on the scene when a woman – whose partner was a volunteer firefighter – and her toddler grandson died at Pyalong in July 2008.

Terri (front right) enjoying afternoon tea with the Gray family at the Old Kilmore Gaol. Richard played ‘shutterbug’.

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