Atlanta, GA,
16:00 PM

35th Annual Derby Day Raises $325,000 for Recreation Therapy at Shepherd Center

Derby Day is the most attended and longest-running fundraising event in Shepherd Center history.

It was a party replete with fancy hats, seersucker suits, mint juleps and lots of fun. Shepherd Center’s annual Derby Day – the largest attended and longest-running fundraising event in Shepherd Center history – celebrated its 35th year on May 6 with a record-breaking crowd of more than 1,300 guests.

For 35 years, the Shepherd Center Junior Committee has hosted Derby Day. To honor this legacy, many past co-chairs and Junior Committee founders reunited at Derby Day to celebrate this special milestone. As soon as the gates opened at 2 p.m., guests flowed in to the horse rink dressed in their race-day best seersucker suits, spring dresses and hats. Each guest enjoyed a big-screen broadcast of the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby while sipping on mint juleps. Attendees loved the live music by Glow the Show Band, lawn games, including corn hole and a wine toss, as well as posing at the Derby-themed photo booth.

Sponsors were treated to their own VIP experience with exclusive access to Chastain Horse Park’s Clubhouse. Patrons and guests enjoyed the culinary delights of tenderloin, pulled pork barbecue, pasta salad and decadent desserts provided by Avenue Catering. Just after 6:30 p.m., the crowd gathered near the stage and big screens to cheer for their favorite horses.

Just before Almost Dreaming won the race, Derby Day Co-Chairs Brit Eames and Will Thies announced the winners of the Derby Day women’s hat contest and Derby Day men’s outfit contest. The live auctioneers, Robert Ahlers and Jason Brooks, mastered the mic as the emcees for the live auction.

The silent and live auctions offered something for everyone with college football-themed corn hole boards, dazzling jewels, and getaways near and far, which raised a record-breaking $70,000! The day was truly filled with food, fun and fast horses!

The 35th annual Derby Day, combined with the outstanding fundraising efforts of the 2016-2017 Shepherd Center Junior Committee, raised $325,000 for Shepherd Center's Recreation Therapy program, which helps people with a temporary or permanent disability caused by injury or disease to lead healthy and active lifestyles as independently as possible through the use of recreation activities, providing education, skill development and community reintegration opportunities.

For more information, visit

Written by Leslie Jackson
Photos by William Twitty Photography, Dean Tarrell Photography and MTech Pro Media

About Shepherd Center

Shepherd Center provides world-class clinical care, research, and family support for people experiencing the most complex conditions, including spinal cord and brain injuries, multi-trauma, traumatic amputations, stroke, multiple sclerosis, and pain. An elite center recognized as both Spinal Cord Injury and Traumatic Brain Injury Model Systems, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News as one of the nation’s top hospitals for rehabilitation. Shepherd Center treats thousands of patients annually with unmatched expertise and unwavering compassion to help them begin again.