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Kentucky Derby fundraiser to benefit Family Counseling Service

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If you can’t go to the 139th annual Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Ky., Family Counseling Service of Northern New York hopes the next best thing will be its annual derby-themed fundraiser.

Event chairwoman Lisa A. L’Huillier said the event from 5 to 8 p.m. May 4 at the Italian-American Civic Association, 192 Bellew Ave., will let participants feel like they’re at the race, as people are encouraged to wear fancy hats and drink mint juleps, and outside they will see Gunner, a horse that raced in the Belmont Stakes.

The goal is to create a fun environment that will raise money for the agency’s children’s services, she said.

Last year’s event, Ms. L’Huillier said, exceeded its $7,000 fundraising goal when it brought in $7,500.

“This year we’re being conservative, and we kept our goal of $7,000,” she said. “We already surpassed that in sponsorship” with about $7,300 raised.

Much of that success may be attributed to honorary co-host Maria J. Roche, who has been “instrumental in obtaining new sponsors,” Ms. L’Huillier said.

Mrs. Roche will co-host the event with her husband, Terrence L.

New this year is a $200 sponsorship level to attract more people and businesses. Other levels go up to $1,000. More sponsors are welcome, Ms. L’Huillier said, as are more items for both the silent and live auctions. Big-ticket items would be reserved for the live auction, and smaller items such as gift certificates or theme baskets would be reserved for the silent auction. People who would like to sponsor the event or donate items to be auctioned may call the agency at 782-4483.

Some live-auction items include a three-hour chauffeured ride in a vintage Bentley from Clarence Henry Coach, a mixed case of wine from Ronson’s Gold Star Liquors and an hors d’oeuvres party co-hosted by City Manager Sharon A. Addison and Councilwoman Roxanne M. Burns.

Between ticket sales and auction items sold, Ms. L’Huillier said, an additional $3,000 could be raised. She said raising extra money to support agency programs is particularly important this year because the agency did not host its annual Snowflake Rally this spring. That event typically made a few thousand dollars when the weather didn’t deter people from attending.

The goal throughout the past few years has been to build up Kentucky Derby Day as the agency’s signature event.

From 5 to 6 p.m. during the event, there will be musical entertainment by Mark Mason, and at 6:15 p.m. there will be a toast to the jockeys and owners at the gate. People may “own” a horse for $50 or a jockey for $25. The owners of whichever jockey and horse win the race will be awarded prizes. The race will take place at 6:30 p.m.

Women will be encouraged to make creative hats, or wear purchased ones, for the hat contest. Prizes will be awarded for best hat.

Tickets are $25 per person, or $45 per couple, but at the door they will be $30 per person and $55 per couple. As an Operation Yellow Ribbon event, there will be a $2 discount per person, or $5 per couple, for those who show military identification. Hors d’oeuvres are included in the ticket price, and there will be a cash bar.

People can call the Family Counseling Service for tickets or stop by the agency, 120 Washington St., Suite 510.

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