Three Chimneys presents Good News Friday: If You Could Make One Wish... - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Three Chimneys presents Good News Friday: If You Could Make One Wish…

If you could make one wish…what would it be?

For one horse-crazy 16-year-old, it was to attend the 2011 Kentucky Derby and pet a Kentucky Derby winner.

Virginia was diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome (LQTS), a rare congenital heart condition in which stress on the heart caused by exercise or excitement can lead to palpitations, fainting and even sudden death.

Virginia is one of hundreds of children with life-threatening medical conditions whose stories are submitted to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana each year. Under the leadership of Dan Koett, executive director for the Kentucky region of Make-A-Wish, the organization works tirelessly to make sure each child's request is not only fulfilled, but that they are treated to the experience of a lifetime.

Last week, Virginia and her family were treated to a VIP Derby week experience in Central Kentucky and it was all thanks to the tireless team effort at Make-A-Wish. Aside from her family receiving box seats for the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby, her Derby week itinerary included a trip to Churchill Downs Wednesday morning to watch the Kentucky Derby and Oaks horses train followed, by an exclusive meet-and-greet with a number of the Derby horses and their connections.

“The team at Three Chimneys is proud to partner with the Make-A-Wish Foundation; being part of a wish like this for someone so enthusiastic and passionate about Thoroughbreds is just icing on the cake,” said Case Clay, president of Three Chimneys Farm, who took Virginia and her family to Churchill Downs during morning training hours the week of the Kentucky Derby to meet and pet some of the race entrants. “Watching her enjoy the morning on the backside made me have almost as much fun as she did…though I didn't blush as much as she did when Mike Smith gave her a big hug!”

Also on Virginia's itinerary were VIP introductions and treat-feeding sessions with 2008 Kentucky Derby winner Big Brown and 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver, followed by guided tours of both Three Chimneys Farm and WinStar Farm.

“I can't believe this place – it's like heaven on earth,” said Virginia about Kentucky's Bluegrass Region. “The best part, aside from the horses obviously, is the people. It's more than just sportsmanship. Everyone I met had great things to say about each other. They're interested in each other's horses and happenings, not just their own.”

Virginia came away from her Derby Wish weekend with armfuls of swag, including loads of photos, a Three Chimneys gift bag, Kentucky Derby memorabilia, and the halter worn by Super Saver when she met and took photos with him.

“She seemed to be like any other young girl who loves horses, and we had a fun conversation about all things Derby,” said Bill Casner, former co-owner of WinStar Farm, which raced and now stands Super Saver.

“I was humbled by the experience and reflected on how blessed all of us are in the Bluegrass to live healthy lives with our horses. I commend Three Chimneys and all others involved with Make-A-Wish for making the wishes of these special children come true.”

Local thoroughbred farms such as Three Chimneys and WinStar Farm have gotten more involved with Make-A-Wish in recent years, due in part to Keeneland's annual Make-A-Wish Day, held during the track's fall racing meet.

“Keeneland's Make-A-Wish Day has quickly become one of our biggest events for a number of reasons,” explained Koett. “Keeneland puts on an unbelievable party for the kids and their families and each farm sponsors a race and a child's wish, so that's 10 wishes that we fund in a single day. Being the Kentucky chapter of Make-A-Wish, we often get horse-related wishes, so having the connections among the Thoroughbred farms is such an asset in granting wishes like Virginia's.”

In the 25 years since the organization's inception, the Make-A-Wish Foundation has granted the wishes of more than 10,000 children with life-threatening illnesses from all over the country.

“The wishes we receive are all over the board,” said Koett.” The most common wish is definitely to go to the Florida theme parks and thankfully we as an organization have great working relationships with the parks, airlines, and other entities it takes to make every wish a truly special experience for each child and their family. With young people being so internet savvy and aware of all the unique opportunities out there we also get wishes that deviate quite a bit from the norm, and that's when our corporate partners, celebrities, volunteers, and the community really step up and make magic happen.”

Every wish granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation is funded entirely through corporate and private donations. With the average value of a wish coming in at $6,000, fundraising is an integral part of Make-A-Wish's Mission.

One of the largest annual fundraisers for the Kentucky region of Make-A-Wish is the organization's annual Walk for Wishes, which will be held in Louisville on June 11 at Papa John's Cardinals Stadium and in Lexington on June 18 on the grounds of Keeneland Race Course. People can participate in the five kilometer non-competitive walk as either individuals or as part of a walk team.

To learn more about the Make-A-Wish Foundation, to register for your area's Walk For Wishes event, or to make a donation, go to http://www.makeawishky.org.

* * *

Thanks to the generosity of Three Chimneys Farm, the sponsor of Good News Friday, a donation of $100 will be sent to Make-A-Wish Foundation. Three Chimneys will be donating that amount each and every week we bring you a story of people or organizations making a positive difference in our world.

Another $100 is being donated to these organizations each week by a Paulick Report reader who wishes to remain anonymous but who encourages all of our readers to open their hearts and pocketbooks for this good cause.

The Paulick Report would like to thank Jen Roytz for contributing this Good News Friday story to our ongoing coverage of people and organizations making a positive difference in our world. Jen is marketing and communications director for Three Chimneys and member of the Make-A-Wish Foundation board.

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