LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The unique connection Stoops has to the charity that benefits from the sale of the bottle.
University of Kentucky head football coach Mark Stoops has lived much of his life with a keen awareness of the importance of cardiac care following his father's untimely death at age 54 from a heart attack. So when the coach was selected to be featured on the 2014 Keeneland Maker's Mark bottle with proceeds going to benefit the Gill Heart Institute at UK Healthcare, he found that to be a cause he could fully endorse.
Mark Stoops' father, Ron Stoops Jr. was a coach and teacher at Youngstown, Ohio's Cardinal Mooney High School. Mark and his three brothers all played for their father in high school, and all four of them followed in their father's footsteps and became football coaches. Mark Stoops is joined in the college coaching ranks by brothers Ron Jr. (asst. coach, Youngstown State), Bob (head coach, Oklahoma State) and Mark (defensive coordinator, Oklahoma State) making the Stoops name one of the most recognizable in the profession.
"I'm certainly honored to be on the label of this year's bottle, especially with the proceeds helping to bring ever-better cardiac care to the people of Kentucky," Stoops said. "I've been here long enough to appreciate both the significance of the Gill Heart Institute's work and the unique role this commemorative bottle plays to help support it. I'm deeply grateful to Keeneland and Maker's Mark for making this happen."
This is the third year that proceeds from the Keeneland bottle will be directed to the Institute, with a goal of $500,000 contributed by Maker's Mark over all three years combined.
Maker's Mark has produced 10,000 numbered, limited-edition bottles that will be available statewide Friday, April 4, the opening day of Keeneland's Spring 2014 meeting. Retailers will set their own prices, but the bottles typically cost around $52.
Over the 18 years that Maker's Mark has partnered with Keeneland to produce an annual commemorative bottle, some $7.1 million has been raised for various charities throughout central Kentucky.
Coach Stoops, Rob Samuels, Maker's Mark Chairman Emeritus Bill Samuels, Jr., and Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason will be available to sign already-purchased bottles on Friday, April 11 at Keeneland beginning at 6:30 a.m. Tickets for the signing will be distributed at Keeneland beginning at 10 p.m. on Thursday, April 10. There will be no bottles for sale at the event, and all those participating must be 21 years or age or older. For more details about the 2014 bottle-signing, CLICK HERE.