Not-for-profit programs hold Kentuck Derby parties to raise money

Monday, April 26, 2010

Two local not-for-profit organizations are using the Kentucky Derby as a reason to celebrate and raise funds for their causes.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri and the Mississippi Valley Therapeutic Horsemanship program both have Derby Day fundraisers scheduled for Saturday to coincide with the 137th annual "run for the roses."

For the therapeutic horsemanship program, a Derby party was a natural fit, said volunteer Jamie Mayfield.

The group's derby party will be from 2 to 5 p.m. in the Riverview Room at Buckner Brewing Co. Activities include hat decorating, a hat contest and games along with watching the Derby broadcast.

Proceeds from the event will go directly to care for the nine horses kept at the organization's Oak Ridge facility including covering the costs of food, veterinary care and farrier fees.

"Most of our fundraisers are for scholarship money for the riders, but this one is for the horses," Mayfield said.

Most of the horses were donated to the program, she added.

Their facility, which is accredited by the North American Riding for the Handicapped Association, includes 12 acres of pasture for horses, an outdoor riding ring and a 60-by120-foot indoor arena.

The program benefits children and adults with disabilities, helping in a variety of physical and emotional ways.

"We've been working with a man who has developed MS and can no longer walk, but when he's riding a horse he's freed from his disability," Mayfield said. "He can command the horse with just his voice and his body."

Volunteers focus on the rider's abilities rather than their disabilities, she said.

"The warmth from the horse's body actually radiates through their legs and can help loosen the rider's muscles," Mayfield said.

Tickets, which are $20 for adults and $10 for children 12 and younger, may be purchased at the door.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri is also hoping to raise money while watching the ponies run. This year isn't the first time the organization has held a fundraiser associated with the Kentucky Derby, but organizers decided to bring the event back this year.

"It's such a festive event and a great way to get people together," said Anne Kennedy, communications director for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

The Derby Party will begin at 4 p.m. at the home of Scott and Samantha Rhodes in Cape Girardeau. It will feature food by Celebrations Restaurant in Cape Girardeau and guest chef Bernard Carmouche of New Orleans.

This year, Big Brothers Big Sisters served 317 students in Cape Girardeau's elementary schools, middle school and junior high.

"When they have a friend they can rely on they do better in school, their confidence is raised, and they have a general sense of well-being," said Kennedy.

Data collected about the children involved in the Cape Girardeau program showed 75 percent had improved school attendance, 60 percent showed improvement in reading, 52 percent improved in math and 50 percent improved their behavior.

Cost to attend the Big Brothers Big Sisters Derby Party is $500 per couple. Space is limited to 200 people and about 160 people have already purchased tickets. To make reservations, call 339-0184.

mmiller@semissourian.com

388-3646

Pertinent addresses:

123 N. Main St., Cape Girardeau, MO

192 Hope Hill, Oak Ridge, MO

1610 N. Kingshighway, Suite 305, Cape Girardeau, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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