The racing community has rallied support for longtime Manitoba horseman Marc Fillion, who suffered an almost fatal accident at Marquis Downs in Saskatoon on Sept.25.
Fillion was injured in a freak accident at the end of a race that day and rushed to Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon with serious injuries to his head and face. A fundraiser was started by Manitoba Standardbred Racing Industry president Trevor Williams to help the horseman.
Close to $19,000 has been raised so far to support Fillion, who is from Saint Malo, about 70 km south of Winnipeg. The horseman is married to Ann Fillion and the couple have two children named Stephen and Maxine.
"Marc is one of those people who is very quick to help others," Williams said. "So, when this happened to Marc, obviously everyone was super supportive and wanting to help him and his family."
Lots of support
"Marc has been a huge contributor over the course of his life," Williams said, noting he bred, raced and drove horses. "Everybody kind of banded together like family and was quick to jump in [with] support, and we're super thrilled with the support that we have received."
About 75 per cent of the donations came from within the horse-racing community and the remainder came from his family and friends, many of whom are also members of the community, Williams said on Wednesday.
"We're definitely surprised by the outpouring support from horse-racing community that may or may not have even known Marc and just reached out knowing he's a fellow horseman," Williams said, noting support has also been coming from Saskatchewan and Alberta.
"We're a very competitive bunch, the horsemen, but when it comes to something like this we're a super close-knit family. We all hope to see Marc back on the track sooner rather than later."
Williams said the funds will help Fillion as his injuries, which include broken eye sockets, a broken nose and crushed cheekbones, will take considerable time to heal and he "will be out of work and not able to raise horses for a while."
Fillion has been recovering "surprisingly well," according to his wife Ann Fillion, Williams said. The horseman is expected to be transferred to Manitoba for more surgery.
Williams said it was not clear how the horseman got injured as he was found bleeding and screaming, laying beside a horse in the barn area after the race.
"There was a lot of blood and swelling," Williams said. "There was a brain bleed and he was put on intubation for his breathing. They eventually took the tube out, he was breathing on his own and starting to talk, and it just took a little while for the brain bleed to stop."
Williams said it is difficult to speculate about what happened, but he's certain Fillion's head was damaged by a horse.