LOUISVILLE, Ky. — You don’t have to be in the infield to celebrate Oaks and Derby; a group of outfielders in Middletown have proven that for decades while raising money for a good cause.
Jim Hafendorfer said that’s why he started hosting the Hillbilly Outfield Party 20 years ago. He uses his own backyard.
“If you can’t make it to the infield, go to the outfield,” he said. “It was kinda like Woodstock with the background of Kentucky Derby.”
There’s live music, food, golf and even cornhole.
The party also embraces the ‘hillbilly’ theme; the golf course is called ‘Val Holler’, a play on the ‘Valhalla’ Golf Course in Middletown.
The large crowd took a few years to grow to this point, but once it did, Hafendorfer said he wanted to do something about the extra money.
“We had a whole lot more money than we needed for a luau party, so we decided to select a charity,” he said. "For many years it was Make-A-Wish.”
The Hillbilly Coalition was able to grant the wishes of several kids, many with terminal illnesses.
“It was always amazing how strong they were,” Hafendorfer said.
Now, they’re honoring another strong group of people – people with stage four metastatic breast cancer.
Twisted Pink, a local organization that helps people with this aggressive cancer, is receiving the money raised from this year’s party.
“Twisted Pink was started in 2014 by a stage three breast cancer patient,” Twisted Pink volunteer Sara Westerman said. "She noticed while she was in chemo that there really wasn’t that much funding going to metastatic breast cancer.”
That’s why she said money would mean so much; the organization raises money for research for more treatment options. Westerman said Twisted Pink also gives people fighting the disease relief by providing trips so they can get away from the constant medical treatment they receive.
“I’m a breast cancer survivor, but I know that one day I can receive a metastatic diagnosis and that’s why it’s so important for me to volunteer with this organization to get the word out,” Westerman said.
Hafendorfer said it hits home for him as well; a member of the Hillbilly Coalition died from stage four cancer after fighting for four years.
“It’s a no-brainer,” he said. “The party has evolved from a bunch of people that wanted to have a great party for the weekend into something that has so much more purpose.”
The party will continue for Derby Day. Tickets can also be bought online and at the door.