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Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs
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Sixteen years ago, Wellspring's annual Derby party began in the Kentucky Derby Museum. For the past ten years, the pre-Derby affair has been held at Millionaires Row in Churchill Downs. Wellspring's Derby Preview Party was not always the traditional party that it has become today. It certainly has evolved to the quite lavish 16th annual shindig, and Wellspring's largest annual fundraiser.

Wellspring Derby Preview Party Churchill Downs

Rhonda Behr Reskin on the left, and Chief Executive officer of Wellspring, Katharine Dobbins on the right, have been friends since they were nine years old. They are the kinds of friends who pick up right where they left off; a kinship that certainly translates to the passion they both share for their organization of Wellspring.

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs

Guests mingled, keeping their eyes on auction items they would want to claim. People walked away with items they will treasure while simultaneously giving back to the community.

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs

Charles Schultz Autographed and Framed Original Snoopy Sketch.

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs

Johnny Depp Autographed Framed Photo.

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs

Jack Daniel's Limited Edition 70th Anniversary Bottles.

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs

Unlimited Chef's Table at Millionaires Row

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs

Loaded Mashed Potatoes: one of my favorites of the savory items! Melt-in-your-mouth consistency and filled with flavor.

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs

Sauteed Green Beans

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs

Another favorite: Lemon Garlic Chicken. The lemon and garlic coalesced into a terrific combination of spices.

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs

Grilled Salmon

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs

New York Strip Loin

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs

Iceberg Wedge

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs

Showcasing some of Louisville's finest Derby fashions. Loved seeing all the great hats and ensembles!

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs

Pearls were a popular classy go-to item; they never go out of style.

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs

This family had so much enthusiasm. Impressive that they all got into the Derby spirit, from head to toe. 

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs

Playing the traditional sounds that jumpstart every famous Derby race at the start of each auction.

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs

This hat had the most pizzazz- you could spot it from across the room. You would never even know that she made it herself! Louisvillians can be quite crafty this time of year. We take our Derby seriously!

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs

Appalatin putting a special Latin roots meets folk leanings twist on an old classic, "My Old Kentucky Home." 

Mayor Greg Fischer

Mayor Greg Fischer speaking on behalf of Wellspring.

Mayor Greg Fischer

Mayor Greg Fischer and John Asher

Surprising John Asher, Master of Ceremonies and Vice President of Communications for Churchill Downs, with his own personal bobblehead. Great moment!

John Asher Churchill Downs

John Asher Wellspring Derby Preview Party

John Asher Wellspring Derby Preview Party Churchill Downs

John Asher declared us the “most compassionate city in America.” Nancy Doctor says the bobble head went through 12 drafts. She admirably accepts nothing less than the best, even when presenting a gift to John Asher. In fact, Ms. Doctor personally helped paint the final version of the bobble head to tailor it to match Mr. Asher, down to his navy sports coat and brown slacks that he wore to the party. For the past seven years, Ms. Doctor has been showcasing that same kind of attention to detail and heart at Wellspring. It is no wonder she is now the Development Director. Her son, Brent Doctor, has seen her tirelessly pour her kind efforts into ensuring all goes smoothly. This Derby Preview Party is “such a labor of love,” he said. And one well worth it. Ms. Doctor prizes the integrity of Wellspring. Imagine a role where every day you go into work, you see at least one person whose life has been saved due to your organization. Wellspring is achieving great triumphs for the human spirit.

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs

Nancy Doctor, Development Director of Wellspring, with her son Brent, enjoying the product of all of their immense efforts.

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs

Fruit Crisp- My sweet tooth gravitated here instantly. A la mode made it even better.

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs

Bread Pudding.

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs Appalatin

Not only are Appalatin great musicians with inventive musical ideas, but they are also such cordial people. This Louisville band will be performing at The Waterfront Park tomorrow, April 24th, and the Cherokee Triangle Art Fair on April 27th. They performed at Wellspring's Derby Preview Party last year as well, and really believe in this organization. 

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs Jennifer Lawrence

Even Louisville’s stellar It-girl Jennifer Lawrence recognizes the valiant role Wellspring plays in improving the lives of those struggling with mental illness. It is notably a cause very near and dear to J Law’s heart. Last year, she had the entire Silver Linings Playbook cast sign a movie poster and donated it for Wellspring’s annual Derby charitable event. This year, she donated two autographed posters of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and American Hustle that collectively were auctioned for $1,000.

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs Chef Jarfi

One of the auction prizes was a gourmet dinner for eight by Chef Jarfi, of Jarfi's Bistro on Bardstown Road.

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs Paul McCartney Beatles

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs Paul McCartney The Beatles

Most popular auctioned item: Paul McCartney's autographed Fender guitar along with two tickets to his upcoming concert. The crowd kept bidding more!

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs Paul McCartney The Beatles

Brent Doctor holding a guitar autographed by the the most successful singer/songwriter of all time. 

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs

Several trip packages were auctioned off. The guests were elated when they were the highest of the bidders. 

Wellspring Derby Party Churchill Downs

Wellspring’s mission is to “hold your hope until you’re ready for it.” As Katharine Dobbins, Chief Executive Officer explained, “People with mental illness are not that different from the rest of us.” While this party was entirely lovely, this was a fun event with an important purpose. It is crucial to provide awareness and educational opportunities to bolster understanding of mental illness. Their organization seeks to take away the stigma an shame and instead offer chances at recovery. Adults with mental illness because of Wellspring are able to foster better relationships with their families and gain the confidence and tools to become engaged members of our community, determined to give back to society. 

Rick Wardlow of Wardlow Auctions declared that this is “one of the most energetic times and places of the year here in Louisville. Let’s put a human touch on this thing…You’re giving from your heart.” With a booming, call-to-action voice, Mr. Wardlow knew how to play to the crowd to amplify the excitement in the room. He knew how to affect each decibel in his voice, punctuating to reach out to us. He very much succeeded. One anonymous donor generously offered $10,000 for no auction item at all; simply out of the goodness of this guest's spirit.

“Our stretch goal was $125,000 and we are confident we well exceeded that,” said Nancy Doctor. For some, this gathering has become as integral of a tradition as Derby itself. Wellspring's Annual Derby Preview Party is fantastic, because not only does it give Louisvillians a chance to be united in Derby pride, but the ability of making colossal differences in society. Wellspring will continue to save and revolutionize lives with these funds. 

All Photos: Courtesy of Julie Lamb


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About Julie Lamb

Curly-haired owner of one massive sweet tooth, believer of Harry Potter and Disney fairytales, and a fierce lover of all things literary and the arts.

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