Thousands of horse enthusiasts came out to the 139th Annual Kentucky Derby Horse Race at Churchill Downs.
Here in Naperville, nearly 300 guests at the Chicago-Marriott Naperville Hotel tuned to see the “Run for the Roses,” but for a good cause.
The 2nd Annual Kentucky Derby Gala, put on by Hesed House, served as a fundraiser. Their mission is to provide support for people in the area who are facing homelessness.
“I missed horseback riding, but I loved the pageantry of the thoroughbred racing and when I started working for Hesed House, I said to Ryan, ‘We are going to do what no other organization is doing, we are going to do a Kentucky Derby Gala,’” said Ensor.
Hessed House doesn’t count proceeds from the gala in terms of money. Instead they determine how many people they can help.
“Last year’s event helped 35 people get out of homelessness. We are hoping to double that next year,” said Ryan Dowd, Executive Director of Hesed House.
“It was the most amazing fundraiser last year and this year it’s exponentially better. For something that so much in it’s infancy, it’s amazing,” said Ginger Evans-Pattison, who serves as a volunteer for Hesed House.
People came out to not only support the cause, but to sport their hats.
“I actually made this hat. Knowing I was going to be wearing it here, is very appropriate and very fun,” said Gina Webb, Highland Park resident.
One hat came straight from Churchill Downs, California at last year’s Kentucky Derby.
“There is a woman that makes hats in the hotel lobby. She’s been there for like 25 years, and that’s where we had our hat made,” said horse lover and Naperville resident, Ann Rigby.
Wearing a hat to the Kentucky Derby is believed to be good luck. This year’s winner was Orb in a 2-½-length victory.
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