“I love pink.” Those three words were printed across the chest of Jodie Nelson as she paddled her surfboard from Catalina Island to the California coast to raise money for breast cancer research. The 40-mile adventure, recently covered by NBC’s “The Today Show,” was not only admirable, but also a magical experience celebrating one woman’s determination to raise money and awareness for a disease that affects millions worldwide.
“I wanted to go out there and do something big and overwhelming, something I had a good chance of failing at,” says Nelson. “I see so many people who have battled and who are beating breast cancer, they are tackling something bigger than them. They keep fighting and don't give up. I want to motivate people to keep fighting!”
Nelson achieved this during her nine-hour paddle excursion. The magical part, besides raising more than $100,000 for breast cancer research, came at the 18-mile mark when a 30-foot long Minke whale, Nelson named “Larry,” accompanied her in the sea as she fought on her surfboard.
The whale followed Nelson for about two hours during the most trying portion of her journey. It was a magical moment for Nelson, and horse racing fans are anticipating a similar moment on Friday, April 30, at Churchill Downs Racetrack in Louisville, Ky., as Kentucky Oaks attendees show their support for breast cancer research and awareness by “getting their pink on” for two very good causes.
In 2009, Churchill Downs partnered with Susan G. Komen for the Cure®, the world’s largest breast cancer awareness organization, and Horses and Hope, a Kentucky-based breast cancer awareness initiative, to raise funds for both nonprofit organizations while putting the Oaks Day spotlight on a critical cause for women and men around the world.
This year, Churchill Downs and its 100,000+ Kentucky Oaks guests will honor 139 women and men -- who may also be partial to pink -- through the second Survivors Parade, which is scheduled to take place just prior to the Oaks race at Churchill Downs. The women and men who were nominated by friends and family and voted on by the public, will parade around the first turn of the historic racetrack that also hosts the Kentucky Derby. Again this year, Bravo Network will carry live coverage of the Survivors Parade along with other Oaks Day activities and the 136th running of the Kentucky Oaks race for 3-year-old Thoroughbred fillies.
Each participant in the Survivors Parade has a remarkable and moving story. Over the next couple of weeks, we will bring you some of those stories. So keep checking back for our “Survivor Profiles” and meet the amazing men and women who will “get their pink on” to bring national attention to the cause that unites them and to celebrate their personal victories over breast cancer.