(Edited Dogwood Stable press release)
Mary Lee-Butte, executive director of the Blue Grass Farms Chaplaincy, is the winner of the 2009 Dogwood Dominion Award, which is given by Dogwood Stables. She is the 17th recipient of honor, which annually recognizes one of racing’s “unsung heroes.” She will receive $5,000 and a bronze statue of the former Dogwood runner Dominion during a luncheon Aug. 5 at the Reading Rooms in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Lee- Butte was selected from more than 30 nominations by judges Anne Campbell, Jay Hovdey, and Todd Pletcher.
“In a state whose Thoroughbred industry is currently short on good news, the Blue Grass Farms Chaplaincy is a shining star – an extraordinary program which helps, on many different levels, the sometimes invisible farm employee,” Cot Campbell said. “Mary is the epitome of what the Dogwood Dominion Award stands for. Growing up with a father who was a Standardbred trainer, she has always appreciated and understood the hard work and dedication it takes to make a living in our industry. Her background has given her a keen sense of what farm workers – and their families – need.”
The chaplaincy provides counseling, educational programs, health services, and financial assistance to more than 1,500 horse farm workers and their families in several counties in Central Kentucky each year.. The chaplaincy has an enrichment center at its Lexington office that boasts a computer lab and classrooms where subjects such as English, farm safety, and financial planning are offered.
Lee-Butte is also the founder of the Chaplaincy’s Ladies Guild, the main fundraising arm of organization. Through the Guild’s efforts there are such “fun” programs as "Moms Night Out," children’s bowling, and picnics in the park. Close to 400 children receive a Christmas they might not otherwise have had each year when the chaplaincy hosts the Festival of Christmas.
The Dogwood Dominion Award was inspired by the multiple stakes winner Dominion, who was campaigned by Dogwood Stable in the 1970s.