For the second year in a row, an effort to bridge the digital divide for underprivileged children of the Thoroughbred industry and throughout Central Kentucky was made through a fundraiser to benefit Tubby's Clubhouse.
Hosted at Ro Parra's Millennium Farms near Lexington Nov. 9, the event raised more than $100,000 via items sold at a live auction and a matching grant from the Ro Parra Family Foundation.
The Tubby's Clubhouse program was established by former University of Kentucky men's basketball coach Tubby Smith and Parra, senior vice president of Dell. 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.
"It was terrific--(the fundraiser) was really a fun time, and people were extremely generous," said Parra of the event, which drew around 300 attendees. "Tubby couldn't be here this year, so he recorded a DVD that was played at the auction. He's still very supportive and continues to financially fund the effort in Lexington."
Some of the big ticket items of the auction included a Dell Notebook computer signed by Michael Dell that brought more than $10,000, a Deer Valley Resort ski vacation that fetched a bid of $9,500, and four North Carolina/Kentucky basketball tickets that were bought for $3,500.
When funding is completed, the newest Tubby's Clubhouse will be built in partnership with the Keeneland Association at a soon-to-be-determined location in central Kentucky. It will specialize in teaching children whose families are affiliated with the Thoroughbred industry.
"There is a tremendous amount of need in children in the middle school age group," said Parra. "The underprivileged kids tend to drop out at alarming rates by the time to get to the 10th grade. If we get them interested in something like technology in middle school, we believe it will make a huge difference to give them opportunities later on."
More than 310 middle school students have graduated from the computer education classes offered through Tubby's Clubhouse from 2004-2006.