Derby fundraiser honors memory of Louisville woman lost to cancer
A Louisville woman who inspired so many as she battled cancer continues to give back to the community, even after her death.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – A Louisville woman who inspired so many as she battled cancer continues to give back to the community, even after her death.
Jill Conley was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 31.
A photo shoot and a documentary captured Jill’s journey. She also spoke across Louisville, encouraging people to stay confident and happy.
Jill even created an organization—Jill’s Wish—to help families fighting a similar battle.
“We pay their rent, their car payments, electric, and let them breathe a minute, so they can focus on what they really need to think about, and that’s recovery,” said Bart Conley, Jill’s husband.
Jill’s cancer spread. She passed away in February at the age of 38.
Her husband carried on her work with Jill’s Wish.
“We’d always talked about having a Derby event as one of our events,” said Bart Conley. “I said, let’s do a Derby party. Let’s honor Jill. Let’s help the people that we need to help.”
The Vintage Warbirds helped make that idea a reality.
“This girl was a fighter pilot. I mean, this girl fought this thing like a fighter pilot,” said Jeff Daus with Vintage Warbirds.
The first-ever Jill’s Wish Derby Cocktail Party was held Saturday night in the Vintage Warbirds Hangar at Louisville’s Bowman Field.
“She loved to dress up, and she was a beautiful lady. Oh my gosh, and she’d be out here partying with us tonight, if she was still fighting this thing. There’s no doubt in my mind,” said Daus.
The fundraising season for Jill’s Wish kicked off with the event, which featured food, live music, auctions and an aerial flyover.
There was also a message from well-known morning talk show host, Hota Kotb.
“The most amazing thing about Jill, in addition to her megawatt smile and all the good she does, is that she just keeps on giving even today. Even after she’s passed, she just continues to give,” Kotb said. “Jill, I’d like to speak on behalf of everyone saying, we miss you like crazy.”
“Rock what you got was Jill’s tagline,” said Bart Conley. “Whatever it is that you have struggles with, be confident. Rock what you got.”
Event organizers say the fundraiser will be part of the Kentucky Derby Festival, next year.
Jill’s Wish has granted 12 wishes so far in 2016.
Visit the Jill's Wish website to learn more about the organization.
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