Wauconda couple raise $7,280 for food pantry with Kentucky Derby-themed event
Undeterred by the pandemic-prompted postponement of the Kentucky Derby, a former Wauconda trustee and her husband organized a racing-themed fundraiser this past weekend to help a local food pantry.
Dubbed the Wauconda Derby, the event raised $7,280 for the Wauconda Island Lake Food Pantry. It was put together by Linda and Glenn Starkey,
Linda Starkey owns Threads Boutique, 118 Main St., and served on the village board from 2011 to 2019. Glenn Starkey is a Wauconda Park District commissioner and longtime community volunteer.
Many suburban food pantries are struggling to keep up with growing demand during the pandemic. Additionally, maintaining adequate staffing at the Wauconda Island Lake pantry during the crisis has been difficult because many older volunteers are staying home to avoid contact with people who might be infected, Starkey said.
The Kentucky Derby was to be held this past Saturday but was postponed until Sept. 5 because of the COVID-19 crisis. That didn't sit well with the Starkeys.
"We said, 'No way!' and had an event of our own," Linda Starkey said.
The Starkeys hosted the Wauconda Derby in empty office space near Threads Boutique to maintain social distancing, but they broadcast it live on the store's Facebook page so people could participate remotely.
Using a tabletop game called Derby Dash, the contest was simple: Eleven pieces shaped like horses and jockeys raced down a rectangular track, with dice throws determining how the horses moved and which ones won, placed and showed.
The horses were sponsored by 11 local businesses: Side Lot Brewery, Lindy's Landing, Slyce Coal Fired Pizza, Bulldogs Grill, Bliss Wine & Gifts, the Honey Hill Coffee Co., Uncle D's Bar & Grille, P.S. Flowers & Balloons, Academy of Ballet Wauconda, Whisk Bakery and Coffee Shop, and Strawberry Moon.
The Wauconda Area Chamber of Commerce sponsored a horse, too. But since Derby Dash boards have only 11 lanes, group Executive Director Maria Weisbruch agreed it wouldn't compete.
"He was a post-time scratch," Linda Starkey said.
Side Lot's horse, named Another Round, won the race. Uncle D's My Corona placed second, and the Academy of Ballet's At The Barre finished third.
In addition to those sponsorships, people voted for their favorite horses by making donations to the cause. Gift cards to participating businesses were randomly awarded to donors.
Bulldogs' horse, which was named after actress Scarlett Johansson, brought in $1,870, more than any other contestant.
Bulldogs co-owner Joe Kafka said he's humbled by the community's support for the event and the food pantry.
"Here at Bulldogs Grill, we take our community seriously, and (we) always want our customers to know that we have their best interests in mind," Kafka said. "The food pantry needs help, and our fans know that we are doing everything we can to get it what it needs."
Wauconda Township Supervisor Glenn Swanson, whose agency hosts and works with the food pantry, was grateful for the effort.
"It's amazing how hard they worked and stepped up to support the pantry," he said.