TUPELO – Churchill Downs is 375 miles away, but Kentucky Derby fun is as close as Robbins Street.

For the 19th year, Tom Evans will host the Kentucky Derby Party at his 419 Robbins Street home this Saturday to benefit Regional Rehabilitation Center.

“It’s a fun excuse to get dressed up and have a good time for a good cause,” said Lacy Short, a member of the organizing committee.

The event, which costs $40 per person, is an elegant, adults-only affair full of fun. The Louisville traditions, like the elaborately decorated hats, have become Tupelo traditions, said Kay Mathews, former Regional Rehab director and organizing committee member.

“I’ve seen stores advertising Derby hats,” Mathews said. “We’ve imprinted on Tupelo.”

The party begins at 3 p.m. Saturday. In the lead up to the race, people can place bets with Derby Dollars play money. Following the race, party-goers can put their winnings to work at a live auction.

The Run for the Roses will take off at 5:46 p.m. The party will continue with music from the TEAZERS led by Barry Bray, a Regional Rehab board member. Additionally, there is a silent auction where real money that benefits the center will buy pottery, jewelry, art, restaurant gift certificates, an Old Waverly golf trip and a vacation condo stay.

Events like the annual Kentucky Derby Party help the center cover its $1 million budget each year to provide physical, occupational and speech therapy, audiology and early intervention services without charge. Annually, the center serves well over a thousand children and adults from across the region.

“It helps so many people,” Short said.

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