Derby Day Soirée Raises over $300,000 for Ele’s Place Ann Arbor


An enthusiastic participant in the auction celebrates her winning bid. Photo by Zac Bodner.

“And, they’re off!” So begins “the greatest two minutes in sports” – the Kentucky Derby!

On Saturday, May 7th, over 300 guests gathered in person for the first time since 2019 to support Ele’s Place Ann Arbor at their 5th Annual Derby Day Soirée. The backdrop was an amazing big top tent on the beautiful grounds of the Historic Earhart Manor at the Ann Arbor Campus of Concordia University. After a week of normal windy and rainy weather for Michigan in May, the sun rose and shined on the event. Thank you Stacey Bodner, Events Coordinator at Ele’s Place Ann Arbor, for your connection with Mother Nature!

Auctioneer Jim Alban got the bidding paddles FLYING! Photo by Zac Bodner.

The Derby Day Soirée is a grand fundraising event that benefits the peer grief support programs offered by Ele’s Place Ann Arbor for grieving children, teens and families in Ann Arbor, and the surrounding southeast Michigan area. All programs are provided free of charge, for as long as a family needs.

Some new events helped raise more money than ever at this year's fundraiser. Photo by Zac Bodner.

The 2022 Derby Day Soirée was Co-Chaired by Tom & Shirley Randall and Al & Marilyn Gileczek, local families who are committed to the Ele’s Place mission, that no child or teen should have to grieve alone. The event featured southern-inspired food stations, the 148th Run for the Roses, mint juleps, live and silent auctions, Derby-wear prizes, a Derby wager raffle and a dance party!

Ladies in big hats and gentlemen in Seersucker suits flashed fancy footwork at the end of the night. Photo by Zac Bodner.

Among the highlights of the Ele’s Place Ann Arbor Derby Day Soirée was the event Emcee, The Sun Times Executive Director, Chuck Colby! This was Chuck’s third year to host the event that was filled with entertainment, mission engagement and community support.

Save the date for the 2023 Ele’s Place Ann Arbor Derby Day Soirée on Saturday, May 6, 2023!

Ele’s Place is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization. If you need assistance or have questions about grief support for children and teens, the Ele’s Place Ann Arbor Clinical Program Staff is available to help! Please call 734-929-6640. Learn more about Ele’s Place Ann Arbor at

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