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Camp Horsin’ Around invites you to BID FOR THE KIDS

Some local and regional artists have poured their hearts into seats for a good cause. Camp Horsin’ Around will hold its 14th Camp Out event Friday, featuring 13 artistically designed benches to be auctioned off. The event will be held at Fasig Tipton Farm in Lexington.

The annual benefit is the major fundraiser for the camp, located in Perryville and designed entirely for children with special needs to have a great camping experience with other kids like them. Currently, the camp is seeking financial support to expand its boating and other outdoor activities to offer the increasing amount of children attending each year.

Leslie Harman

Bench by Leslie Harman

But specialized equipment is needed to accommodate the needs of health-compromised campers wanting a full camping experience.

The camp’s executive director since April, Julie McAllister, says in 2016 alone, more than 900 children have enjoyed the freedom of the camp’s 191 acres of farmland, leaving doctors’ visits and hospitals behind.

“The camps have been increasing since 2014, when we finished our last phase of construction,” McAllister says, which included the completion of a dining hall, allowing the camp to host overnight stays. Every activity on camp grounds has been adapted for accessibility and to maximize camping fun for children, regardless of their diagnosis.

“This is our big fundraiser of the year that supports our operating budget,” says McAllister. More than $700,000 has been raised toward operating expenses since the benefit’s inception.

Lori Price

Bench by Lori Price

Although in its 14th year, the benefit added a new twist — called Benches for Bid for Kids — pairing wooden benches up with participating artists to uniquely design with their own creative talents, which will be auctioned off. The idea came from Phyllis Cronin, a founding board member who saw a similar program at another benefit and brought the vision to this year’s fundraiser.

The benches were designed and built by a camp volunteer, Lyle Becker, and his wife, Anne Shannon. Artists involved in designing benches come from Lexington, Louisville, Campbellsville, Danville, Lebanon and Harrodsburg, and all have donated their time and artistry to the cause.

The benches will be a part of the silent auction process and may be bid on in person during the benefit, or now on a website for those who cannot attend. There are more than 100 other items included in the silent auction.

Rob Rettie

Bench by Rob Rettie

The benefit will feature a buffet dinner, open bar, tasting from Buffalo Trace Bourbon, guest speaker, and live and silent auctions.

One very popular item, McAllister says, will return this year to the live auction: a weekend getaway at the camp for family and friends. Other items include a bridle worn by Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, and a halter worn by Derby winner California Chrome. Also up for grabs will be a 30-minute flyover in a personal plane, two box tickets to the UK vs. New Mexico State football game along with footballs signed by coaches Mark Stoops and Randy Cobb. Gift baskets from Keeneland and area distilleries will be auctioned off, as well as entertainment, sports, home and personal gifts.

“In the past, we’ve made anywhere up to $60,000 with this fundraiser, and of course our goal is definitely to exceed that,” McAllister says. The camp functions year-round with a 2-person staff, which is increased during camp-out months, and a 22-person board. Seventy-five percent of the operating budget goes into programming and services for the campers, McAllister says.

“The board has really stepped up in the past years before we had an executive director,” she says. McAllister says she hopes the benefit continues to be a major support of the camp.

“This camp grew out of a desire to create a place where health-compromised children could become ‘happy campers,’” McAllister says. Future goals include developing an adaptive zip line and putt-putt course, as well as accessible hiking trails and a lodge to host family weekends.

IF YOU GO

Camp Horsin’ Around’s annual Camp Out benefit will be 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 16, at Fasig Tipton Farm, 2400 Newtown Pike in Lexington. Tickets are available online at www.camphorsinaround.org for $125 each. For those who are unable to attend but would like to bid, online bidding of the artist-designed benches and other items is available now at Handbid.com. Search for the event’s date to find bidding details.