LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — The 14th annual Make-A-Wish Day at Keeneland invited ten children to a special day at the tracks on Thursday.
Local thoroughbred farms partner with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Keeneland to give the ‘Wish Kids’ and their families a VIP experience they’ll always remember.
“It truly is one of the highlights of the year for us because it’s all about the kids,” said Faith Hacker with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Throughout the day, the kids get a chance to meet the jockeys in the paddock, watch their sponsor’s race from the winner’s circle and present a trophy to the winners after each race.
11-year-old Reed Elliotte has beat cancer twice. He was invited to sing the National Anthem before the races kicked off.
“Singing can give a really powerful message to someone who doesn’t feel well and they just need something. You can just sing to them and it’ll brighten their day,” Reed said. “Sometimes when I’m down I just sing.”
He said his biggest wish is to meet every living president. He met former President Jimmy Carter in 2019.
“I told him that he was my favorite president and I was praying for him when he broke his hip. And he said, ‘Well, thank you very much,’” Reed said.
“He was just speechless after it happened,” said Larietta Elliotte, Reed’s mother.
He said the next name he hopes to cross off is former President Donald Trump.
10-year-old Gwyn Morgan also received the VIP experience on Thursday.
She said her wish is to write, illustrate and publish her own children’s book. She said she has three working ideas she’s storyboarding right now.
“I think it’s cool how every illustrator has their own different style that’s unique in one way or another and I was kind of hoping to share that with the rest of the world,” Gwyn said.
Gwyn’s parents said she has never been to the races before, but they know the opportunity to present a trophy to one of the winners will mean a lot to her.
“A lot of her life feels like a race right now. We’re on the road a lot with clinical trials and so I think it’s special for her to see athletes, both horse and rider, going through something difficult and being able to cheer them on,” said Heather Morgan, Gwyn’s mom.
Keeneland’s Make-A-Wish Day was launched in 2007 and has granted 128 wishes for kids across central Kentucky over the years.