A match made in bourbon

March 28, 2018

This piece is presented by JJ’s Wine, Spirits & Cigars.

In 2013, Tom Slattery, owner of JJ’s Wine, Spirits & Cigars, was “coerced,” as he describes it, into purchasing a couple of raffle tickets.

These weren’t just any raffle tickets.

They were Ronald McDonald House Kentucky Derby raffle tickets.

Little did he know that buying those tickets would be the beginning of what has turned out to be a wonderful partnership of bourbon, horse racing and philanthropy.

In 2015, Slattery was asked to join the Ronald McDonald House Charities of South Dakota board of directors.

“I had really been struggling with finding a good fit for my business and myself from a charitable perspective,” he said. “When Kevin Miles asked me to join, I didn’t hesitate as I knew what this charity was all about, and I also knew exactly what I could bring to the table to help move it in the right direction with respect to fundraising.”

Slattery was talking about bourbon.

And this April, for the third straight year, Slattery is donating an entire barrel of bourbon to the nonprofit organization for its seventh annual Kentucky Derby raffle event.

“I select the single barrel bourbon, donate it to the event, and RMHC gets 100 percent of the proceeds,” Slattery said.

That’s not 100 percent of the profit from the raffle of the bottled bourbon. It’s 100 percent of the total sale.

“It’s a big investment, but it’s a win-win for everyone, and bourbon and the Kentucky Derby kind of go together,” Slattery said.

The addition of bourbon was the latest Derby-inspired element to help grow the event.

When the idea of hosting a Kentucky Derby raffle was first brought up, the board of directors was excited about the uniqueness of the event, and the staff was equally intrigued, said Jessica Arend, director of development at Ronald McDonald House.

“The event got off the ground when our past board president, Ben Graham, president of Bell Inc., donated use of a private plane to take our winners to the Derby. When Tom joined the board, the event added even more Kentucky Derby character, which makes it exciting and special. We are so grateful to all past and continued sponsors of this event.”

The first two barrels Slattery donated have brought close to $15,000 to the event’s fundraising tally, and he is certain this year’s selection will be equally successful.

“We selected a Woodford Reserve single barrel for this year’s event. I actually had all of my fellow board members participate in the selection process at our annual Christmas gathering. They were all pretty astonished at how different each sample was,” he said.

And with Woodford Reserve as the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby, it was certainly a good fit for this year’s event.

The bottles will be released at the raffle event April 12 at the Minnehaha Country Club. If you want a crack at getting one of these special bottles, you need to buy a raffle ticket.

Each ticket costs $100 and has an equal chance to win a day trip for six to the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. Guests travel by private plane and then limousine to six box seats in the lower level.

Sponsors cover all trip costs, so all proceeds raised through ticket sales go toward keeping families close to their hospitalized children.

Additional sponsors include First Premier Bank, Cellular Only, Sanford Health, McDonald’s, Midco, First Bank & Trust, Woodford Reserve, Cutler Law Firm, The First National Bank in Sioux Falls, and Steve and Sarah Sarbacker.

“Their generosity speaks volumes not only to the success of this event but more importantly to the mission of this charity, making sure mom and dad are able to temporarily live near their sick or injured child while they receive care and treatment at a Sioux Falls hospital,” Arend said.

Here’s what you need to know about the event:

When: 5:30-8 p.m. April 12.

Where: Minnehaha Country Club.

Cost: $100 per raffle ticket, purchase one or several. Winner is announced at 7 p.m. and does not need to be there to win.

Details: Enjoy Derby-themed hors d’oeuvres, incredible desserts — courtesy of JJ’s very own Boozy Baker — mint juleps in official Derby glasses, wine tasting and, of course, the Woodford Reserve bourbon.

Dress code: Kentucky Derby attire is strongly encouraged! Ladies, wear a fabulous fascinator or hat, and gentlemen come in your Derby wear.

To purchase a ticket, stop into JJ’s Wine, Spirits & Cigars, call the Ronald McDonald House at 605-336-6398, ext. 5, or email Jessica Arend at jarend@rmhcsodak.org. Tickets must be purchased no later than 5 p.m. April 11.

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A match made in bourbon

A raffle ticket led to a memorable — and tasty — fundraising partnership for JJ’s Wine and the Ronald McDonald House. Here’s how you can enjoy and give back too.

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