In spite of a struggling economy, the generosity of Thoroughbred industry members and others was not lacking at the third annual Tubby’s Klubhouse fundraiser Nov. 7. Hosted by Ro Parra’s Millennium Farms near Lexington, the event raised $221,300 via items sold at a live auction, individual donations, and a matching grant from Parra’s Family Foundation.
The Tubby's Klubhouse program was established by former University of Kentucky basketball coach Tubby Smith and Parra, the former senior vice president of Dell, Inc. The program is based on Dell's TechKnow program that teaches basic computer skills to at-risk children. Upon graduation, each student receives a refurbished Dell computer.
“This was by far our best fundraiser,” said Parra after the event, which had close to 400 attendees. One of the highlights of the live auction was a $17,500 bid by Manchester Farm's Mike Rutherford for a 2009 season to stallion Student Council.
At the beginning of the night, Parra challenged the crowd of 375 to raise $100,000 in bids at the auction, thus triggering a Parra Family Foundation match of $100,000. After 19 items were sold and other contributions were made, it was announced that $121,300 had been raised.
"Last year we raised $53,000, and our Foundation matched that dollar for dollar, so this amount was our best yet by a wide margin," Parra said. "We thank Van Florence, executive director of Tubby's Klubhouses for all of his support on the event, and Kip and Ellen Cornett for developing a great list of donated items for the live auction."
The evening, which offered a buffet dinner and live music, also hosted a stallion show of Millennium sires, including new stallions Zanjero and Student Council.
“People were very generous, and it was a really great event, I thought,” Parra said. “Hopefully we can do it again next year.”
Also present at the fundraiser were Smith, who flew to Lexington from Minneapolis, Minn., where he now coaches at the University of Minnesota; and Nick Nicholson, president and CEO of Keeneland.
Keeneland’s auctioneers and bid spotters donated their services to the live auction, after which the organization contributed an additional $5,000 to Tubby’s Klubhouse.
“(Nicholson) has been involved (with Tubby’s Klubhouse) from the very beginning, helping to get the program off the ground,” Parra explained.
During the Nov. 7 event, Smith also unveiled the new logo for the program, in which the word clubhouse is spelled with a large and distinctive "K."
The non-traditional spelling is to honor Bill Keightley, UK basketball's longtime equipment manager who died last April.