LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The University of Louisville James Graham Brown Cancer Center today announced it will discontinue The Julep Ball. The gala has been held annually on the evening before the Kentucky Derby since 2009.
“While The Julep Ball has over the course of its history provided great visibility for the James Graham Brown Cancer Center and a wonderful venue for us to thank our supporters, the resources necessary to stage a quality event have grown too great to make it successful as a significant fund-raising effort,” said Michael Neumann, executive director of development for the cancer center.
“We have always worked to make The Julep Ball much more than simply an enjoyable evening for our patrons; it has become the singular premiere Derby Eve ‘Party with a Purpose,’” Neumann said. “Maintaining the standards of quality that we have set for ourselves has required more and more resources, particularly manpower, each year. This means we have to divert those resources away from other projects and activities equally important to our mission to provide world-class clinical care, education and research in the field of cancer.”
Neumann added that The Julep Ball and its predecessor, the Mint Jubilee, have generated over $1.5 million over the past decade to support the work of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center. However, the resource requirements involved in attracting celebrity guests and providing top-quality entertainment, food and drink in a gala setting have continued to grow as other Derby Week events have mushroomed.
“When we began more than a decade ago, the field of Derby Week parties was quite limited,” he said. “We believe that our success encouraged and even helped give birth to other parties organized by individuals and groups who do not have the mission we do and with whom The Julep Ball now competes.”
Events organized by others in support of the cancer center will continue to receive assistance from university faculty and staff, he said. Art to Beat Cancer is traditionally held each fall and will be held Nov. 21 from 5:30-9:30 p.m. at the Green Building, 732 E. Market St. The Twisted Pink Masquerade Ball supports metastatic breast cancer research at the cancer center and will be held Feb. 7, 2015, at The Gillespie, 421 W. Market St. Hats for Hope traditionally kicks off the Derby season and will be held April 16, 2015, at the Triple Crown Conference Center.
“We look forward to continuing to support these events in every way we can, and explore new events proposed by our supporters,” Neumann said.
He added that the university has retained ownership of the name and brand of The Julep Ball.
“The Julep Ball grew to become a wonderfully festive Derby Eve gala, and for that, we thank each of the many volunteers over the years who helped it thrive,” Neumann said. “We hope they continue to support the James Graham Brown Cancer Center in the months and years to come.”