It was Kentucky Derby Day with a twist at Folly Farm in Simsbury Saturday. Not only was a crowd of more than 300 people celebrating the sporting event at Churchill Downs, they were celebrating a former Travelers executive and fighting pancreatic cancer, the disease that took his life seven years ago.
It was the 4th annual Ron’s Run for the Roses, a derby-themed outdoor, dressed up bash benefiting the Ron Foley Pancreatic Cancer Foundation.
“I just lost my dad to pancreatic cancer and heard about this at Hartford Hospital,” said Laura Haynes of Enfield. “I wanted to do something to fight that horrible disease so I bought a ticket and this beautiful hat and here I am.”
It was everything derby-ish at the afternoon event from men in seersucker suits to mint juleps in every hand. And then there were the hats.
Hats ranged from the conservative to the wild with several of those with stunning chapeaux admitting that getting ready for the event was a lesson in crafting.
“The hat is from TJMaxx and I bought the flowers and the feathers at Michael’s and went crazy with the glue gun,” explained committee member Jennifer Volanski who wore a white and brown polka dot dress (think Julia Roberts in “Pretty Woman”) with a straw hat-tipped confection of tulle, peacock feathers and huge beige silk flowers.
Foley was Travelers chief financial officer when he was diagnosed with his disease. Honorary co-chairmen Brian MacLean, Travelers president and CEO and Greg Toczydlowski, president of Travelers Personal insurance, were friends as well as co-workers.
“Ron was an important person in both our careers,” said Toczydlowski, referring to him and MacLean.
No one was happier than the Foley family who began the fundraiser as a picnic in the backyard.
“It is just amazing,” said Barbara Foley, Ron Foley’s widow who is remarried. “Last year we donated $75,000 to Hartford Hospital for pancreatic cancer research and over the four years raised over $200,000 ,” she said. “I can’t believe the size and the elegance and sense of friendship this has become,” she added. “Ron would be thrilled.”
For more pictures from the party go to http://cour.at/IDT3hN