Race for Grace

Race For Grace 2012

by Julie June Stewart, NY Times Horse Racing Blog, May 3rd, 2012
View photos from the 2012 Race For Grace

Terry Bradshaw, a Hall of Fame NFL quarterback and current FOX TV analyst, was the guest speaker at “Race for Grace,” the annual Derby-time fundraising dinner for the Kentucky Race Track Chaplaincy.

Overlooking the Churchill Downs racetrack, people stood at the windows and discussed possible winners for the 138th Kentucky Derby. Suddenly, there was a surge of energy when N.F.L. legend Terry Bradshaw entered the room. Many were drawn to a football hero and reverently requested an autograph or fumbled with their phones and digital cameras to document a moment with Mr. Bradshaw. Everyone was attracted to his big, open smile and larger-than-life personality

This was the 10th Annual Race for Grace supporting the Kentucky Race Track Chaplaincy. It was an opportunity for a well-groomed crowd of about 400 to laugh and reflect on faith with Mr. Bradshaw, bid on auction items and support the chaplaincy.

The auction is a treat for horse racing enthusiasts. There were halters from all of the Kentucky Derby contenders; original artwork, jewelry and equestrian scarves; sports packages for the Derby, the Indianapolis 500 and college football, college basketball and N.F.L. games.

The annual Race for Grace event provides the financial resources needed to support the chaplaincy outreach at Churchill Downs, Turfway Park and Ellis Park, where the chaplains serve the backside communities.

An introductory video titled “One Light” featuring backside workers and race track management included the message: “The chaplains are there for me as I searched for a missing piece of my life.”

The audience responded easily to Mr. Bradshaw, the Hall of Fame quarterback and longtime television analyst. He is no stranger to horse racing. He owns a share in the horse Mission Impazible who raced in the 137th Kentucky Derby. Mr. Bradshaw is also well known as a speaker and a frequent guest on TV talk shows. He is blessed with the gift of humor and often is willing to use himself to encourage others to laugh and have joy in their life.

But when Mr. Bradshaw, who speaks clearly about his Christian faith, calmed down and started speaking quietly, the crowd grew silent. No clinking of silverware, no text tones on phones, no murmurs or whispers, no fidgeting. Mr. Bradshaw held the audience’s attention as he talked about being thankful, coping with adversity and health issues and appreciating life. He talked about his football career, his children and his parents. He had a special message for the young people in the room: “You have the title and the deed to your dream young folks – don’t give it up!”

Mr. Bradshaw discussed being blessed with common sense and how important it is to say thank you each and every day. He encouraged the audience to “Love your mama, and take time to love your daddy. Life is all about compassion and loving one another. Put your head on the pillow and think, what a great day I’ve had.”


The Race for Grace provides the financing for the chaplaincy program at Churchill Downs, Turfway Park and Ellis Park, where the chaplains serve the backside communities. Each track could be considered a miniature city of interdenominational faiths and individual needs that is pulled together by the chaplains. They provide religious services, baptisms, weddings, funerals, hospital visits, meals, clothing, Christmas present coordination with churches and more.

For more information about the ministry at Kentucky racetracks, please go to www.kychaplaincy.org. For event ticket reservations, email us at info@kychaplaincy.org or call Christ Chapel at (502) 636-4476.

An annual fundraising affair to support Kentucky Race Track Chaplaincy

RFG was born out of the hearts of those who sincerely cared for the chaplains’ ministry and wanted to ensure its viability to people who work on and around Kentucky’s race tracks. “Race for Grace”, an annual fundraising affair to support Kentucky Race Track Chaplaincy, held its first inaugural dinner and auction in 2003.

A Kentucky Derby week celebration, Race for Grace is held the Monday evening prior to the First Saturday in May . . . which of course is Derby Day at Churchill Downs. This unique event is dedicated to honoring and proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ, and is available to all interested persons . . . local and national in participation.

Race for Grace is more than a fine dinner overlooking the most famous race track in the world. It is more than an opportunity to meet and greet some of the great celebrities of the horse racing and sports world. Race for Grace is an opportunity to be spiritually uplifted while supporting the work of Kentucky Race Track Chaplains. RFG is the primary source of funds that aids the chaplains in bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the race tracks and thoroughbred farms in Kentucky.