Churchill Downs Racetrack, host of the Kentucky Derby® and the Kentucky Oaks®, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, the world’s largest breast cancer organization, announced today a partnership to raise funds to aid in breast cancer awareness and research. Kentucky Oaks 135, the companion event to the annual Kentucky Derby, will feature a day of events to raise money and awareness for Komen, which leads the global movement for breast cancer research, education, advocacy and community support. The Kentucky Oaks is scheduled for Friday, May 1, 2009, one day before the famed “Run for the Roses.”
Also today, Churchill Downs announced that NBC Sports will produce a special featuring the food, fashion and celebrity experience associated with Kentucky Oaks Day to be broadcast on sister cable network Bravo. The program also will include special on-track events related to the new partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure, from 5-6 p.m. EDT on May 1. Bravo is a program service of NBC Universal Cable Entertainment, a division of NBC Universal. NBC Sports will again broadcast the Kentucky Derby that begins with celebrity Red Carpet arrivals on Saturday, May 2, at 4 p.m.
Through the new partnership with Susan G. Komen, Churchill Downs will donate at least $100,000 to Komen by dedicating funds from Kentucky Oaks 135 general admission and reserve seating attendance. If the effort to draw Komen survivors and supporters to Oaks 135 sets a new attendance record (current Oaks Day record is 111,243), Churchill Downs will donate $1 for every Oaks attendee, up to a maximum donation of $135,000 to the nonprofit organization in 2009.
In addition, both organizations are working together to create special events throughout Oaks Day, including a First Lady of Fashion Contest, Survivors Parade and a special Kentucky Oaks winner’s circle formed by breast cancer survivors to celebrate the Kentucky Oaks winner’s victory on the track and the survivors’ victories over breast cancer. Since the official color of both the Kentucky Oaks and breast cancer awareness is pink, Churchill Downs is also staging a “Pink Out” at the track on Oaks Day and encouraging all Oaks attendees to wear pink or to incorporate pink into their attire for the day to show their support.
Churchill Downs will also honor Susan G. Komen for the Cure founder, Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, as the inaugural “First Lady of Oaks” for her tireless dedication to the organization she established to honor her sister, Susan G. Komen, who died of breast cancer in 1980 at the age of 36. The First Lady of Oaks is a new element of the racetrack’s Oaks Day celebration that will honor a special woman who has utilized her professional and personal experiences to celebrate women and promote issues and causes that women support.
“Kentucky Oaks Day has always celebrated the top female equine athletes in our sport, and so Oaks Day is a natural opportunity for us to reach out to women around the world and encourage them to join us for a great day of racing, entertainment and awareness of issues that matter most to them,” said Robert L. Evans, president and chief executive officer of Churchill Downs Incorporated, the racetrack’s parent company. “We know that women care passionately about supporting charities that have an impact on their lives and the lives of their loved ones. We are very happy to have forged a partnership with Susan G. Komen for the Cure that will help men and women in Kentucky and around the world who are fighting breast cancer. We are also thrilled that our partners at NBC Universal were able to step up in helping us reach a broader audience so that women across the country can share this special celebration.”
“We have special affection for our friends in Kentucky who support Komen’s work here in the state and all around the world,” said Hala Moddelmog, president and chief executive officer of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. “Our new partnership with the Kentucky Oaks is a celebration of the passion and energy of women, and the funds raised will go a very long way toward programs that are, literally, saving lives. We are very grateful to Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Oaks and we’re looking forward to being a part of this very special day.”
“Our friends at Churchill Downs brought this unique concept to us and we jumped at the chance to be a part of what will be a very special celebration of women and breast cancer survivors,” said Dick Ebersol, chairman, NBC Universal Sports and Olympics. “We are extremely proud to be able to cover what promises to be quite a spectacle and a moving day for so many women.”
Churchill Downs will also create special areas within the track where Susan G. Komen for the Cure supporters can gather and enjoy Oaks Day. As an additional fundraising opportunity, Komen supporters will have the chance to purchase tickets to two Infield Suites that will be specifically reserved for them. Komen will receive $250 for every designated Infield Suite ticket sold. Infield Suites or general admission tickets can be purchased online by visiting the official Komen Web site, www.kentuckyderby.com/2009/komen/buy.
Churchill Downs and Susan G. Komen for the Cure are encouraging survivors and supporters from the region, and around the world, to attend this very special event and, of course, show their support by wearing pink. The hope is to set an attendance record to raise maximum funds for a great cause. The attendance record for the Kentucky Oaks is 111,243 attendees. Even if supporters and survivors can’t make it to Louisville, they can get involved by visiting www.kentuckyderbyparty.com for a specially designed Komen for the Cure branded invitation and everything needed to throw an Oaks or Derby party as a fundraiser at home.
Churchill Downs will also utilize the Kentucky Oaks event to raise money for Horses and Hope, a breast cancer initiative of Kentucky First Lady Jane Beshear and the Kentucky Cancer Program. The organization’s goal is to work with the state’s equine industry to identify new opportunities to provide breast cancer awareness, education, early detection through screening and treatment referral, as well as to raise funds to sustain programs into the future.