Local Kentucky Derby event gives back to kids

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COLUMBIA — This may be Missouri, but a local crowd had their eyes tuned in to the Kentucky Derby for a good cause.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Missouri hosted its second annual Big Derby Party at the Tiger Hotel. The event was open to the public to raise funds and support for the organization.

Big Brothers Big Sisters aims to have an impact on the lives of youth in the community. This is done by matching youth participants with role models who develop long-lasting strong relationships and actively mentor the kids into young adulthood.

The event had a variety of offerings.

Guests were served a vast spread of lunch fare and drinks. Those who were wearing derby-themed fashions could enter into competitions for best hat or best dressed. Games of croquet were played, along with a number of contests including a horse auction and a cigar draw.

Heather Dimitt-Fletcher is the executive director for the Central Missouri branch of the organization.

She said that there is a lot of need among the area they serve which include Boone, Randolph and Audrain counties.

Currently the wait list is 100 names long. Dimitt-Fletcher said the organization is always looking to match volunteers with kids.

She said the funds raised at events like the Big Derby Party gives Big Brothers Big Sisters the chance to take on more kids in need and provide expanded services.

"A lot of what people don't realize is that we serve kids all the way from kindergarten up through high school." Dimitt-Fletcher said. "We don't have an income criteria for participation, although about 97 percent of our kids come from homes that are eligible for free lunch at school or are receiving some type of federal assistance."

Dimitt also said a large population of the participating kids are children of prisoners and single-parent homes who desire for their child to have another leader to look up to outside the home.