Fmr. Churchill Downs employee originates 'pink out' tradition


by Kelsey Starks

Posted on May 11, 2014 at 11:58 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Let’s face it. Our mother’s tend to take care of us before they take care of themselves. It’s just part of being a mother and there are a lot of other people to take care of first.

For the month of May, a reminder for the mother’s out there.

Last weekend, Churchill Downs was draped in pink.

140 survivors of breast and ovarian cancers took to the track to parade their survival.

There were signs in the parade marking 10, 20, and 30 years of life.

“I didn’t think it would be as emotional as it’s been. It’s been 5 years but it’s been very emotional,” Ann Edwards, breast cancer survivor said.

The first line at the Downs is not always as easy as win, place or show just as the starting gate doesn’t give everyone the same chance on the track.

“I’m a nurse and I skipped about three years. It’s not always going to happen to you. If I had a mammogram it maybe wouldn’t have gone as far as it did. Women need to get their mammograms,” Edwards said.

The Churchill Downs “Pink Out” tradition at the Kentucky Oaks began 5 years ago when Patricia Amburgey, a longtime employee was first diagnosed with stage three breast cancer.

Her co-workers started showing up to work in pink to show their support and the word spread big.

It spread so big that pink has become synonymous with the Kentucky Oaks and cancer awareness.

The 140th Kentucky Oaks was the first year Amburgey didn’t attend.

She lost her battle with breast cancer in October of last year and she left behind her family including three young children.

Amburgey also leaves behind a tradition that her husband says he hopes will live on well past her time.

It’s a colorful reminder to take a little time for you, get checked early and often and remind the women in your life to do the same.

This year, 433 survivors were nominated to be a part of the Oaks Day Parade and 140 were chosen for the 140th anniversary of the Oaks.

Churchill Downs partners with Bright Pink to support early detection of breast and ovarian cancers.

This year alone, they donated $50,000 to the cause.

The Downs is hosting Kentucky One Health’s Mobile Mammography Unit on May 19.

The unit travels around our area, offering easy, one-step mammograms to women who qualify.

To find out other locations where it stops, call (502) 562-HOPE.