Gold Star families honored at 10th Survivors Day at the Races

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Joshua Horton
  • 123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Hundreds of Gold Star family members were honored at the 10th-annual Survivors Day at the Races at Churchill Downs here Nov. 3.

Air Force Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau, Army Maj. Gen. Stephen Hogan, Kentucky’s adjutant general, and other military leaders joined the event to pay their respects to the nearly 1,000 family members of fallen service members in attendance.

Activities throughout the day kept attendees entertained, but according to Amy Quimby, Airman and Family Readiness Program manager for the 123rd Airlift Wing, the opportunities to connect with survivors is what really made the event a success.

“It provides support, it connects people who know and understand each other’s loss, and lifelong friendships have been created,” Quimby said. “There are people here who travel from 19 different states. You just see their smiles as they see each other again.

“I had an opportunity to talk to the mother of a service member who was killed,” Quimby continued. “This was the first event she attended. Being there has brought some peace to her knowing that there are other people going through the same thing she is and that they understand.”

Highlighting the day was a race named in honor of the Survivors of Fallen Military Heroes. Family members were randomly selected to present the trophy to the winning jockey and owners in the winner’s circle.

Survivor’s Day at the Races began in 2010 with Churchill Downs donating 120 tickets on behalf of military surviving family members. The event made quite an impression on those in attendance, including corporate leaders, organizers said.

In 2011, Humana Government Business came forward with financial support as long as the Survivor Outreach Services team continued ownership of the event. With the help of Churchill Downs and Humana, Survivor’s Day at the Races is now the largest SOS event in the nation.