Great Steamboat Race Party Anchored By A Cause

The Mudd sisters – Janet Sweet, Debbie Tuggle, Leslie Mudd and Ann Mudd – with brother Paul Mudd. Not pictured is sister Jolene Barton, from Cincinnati.

The Mudd sisters – Janet Sweet, Debbie Tuggle, Leslie Mudd and Ann Mudd – with brother Paul Mudd. Not pictured is sister Jolene Barton, from Cincinnati.

For nearly two decades, the Mudd sisters – Janet, Debbie, Leslie, Jolene and Ann – have played host to one of the hottest parties held the day of the Kentucky Derby Festival’s Great Steamboat Race. Nine years ago, however, the annual soiree grew much bigger as it became focused on more than a simple occasion to celebrate.

With a mother diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, the Mudd sisters turned their outdoor affair into a fundraiser for a cure. Thus, the “Great Steamboat Race Party” set sail, and, in its ninth year, will take place Wednesday, May 1, at KingFish Restaurant in Jeffersonville, Ind.

The late Trudy Mudd and her husband, Dr. Joseph P Mudd.

The late Trudy Mudd and her husband, Dr. Joseph P Mudd.

The charity event will benefit the Alzheimer’s Association, the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Since 2005, the Great Steamboat Race Party has raised more than $100,000 for the Greater Kentucky and Southern Indiana Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.

March of last year, the Mudd sisters’ mother, Trudy Mudd, lost a 23-year battle with Alzheimer’s, a disease that impacts nearly 80,000 Kentuckians and 120,000 Indiana residents. Determined more than ever to find a cure, the Mudd sisters are eager to continuing fighting the disease with the help of their party, while kicking off one of the most exciting times in the city: Derby week.

– Ashley Anderson, Staff Writer, The Voice-Tribune 

How has the Great Steamboat Race Party grown since it first began?
This was a party that my sister Leslie and I had for a number of years. It was an invitation-only event and wasn’t an Alzheimer’s event until nine years ago. … My sister Debbie suggested we make it for Alzheimer’s, and that’s when (the Great Steamboat Race Party) began.

What was it like witnessing a loved one living with Alzheimer’s?
(My mom) probably had Alzheimer’s for 24 years, and that’s just a ridiculous number of years. You rarely hear anyone having it more than 10 years. … One in 68 people can get Alzheimer’s, but it touches the lives of so many more people (indirectly).

What does the event mean to you, especially now since your mom’s passing?
It was near and dear to our hearts to turn this party into a fundraiser and try to help find a cure. To date, we’ve earned $130,000.

Why should people attend this year’s party?
(KingFish) is big and open, and you can see who all is there. KingFish takes good care of us. … Everybody (who) comes they’re just in a great mood. It’s kind of the start of your Derby weekend, and people start asking me about it way ahead of time. We have people who just love to come every year. It’s all ages too, anywhere from 21 to 80 something.

The Great Steamboat Race Party will be held from 5 to 11 p.m. Wednesday, May 1, at KingFish Restaurant, 601 W. Riverside Drive. Attendees will receive a riverfront view of the annual Great Steamboat Race, heavy hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar, plus a performance by Thumper and the Plaid Rabbits. DJ Glenn Smith will provide dance music. The party is a 21 and over event and guests MUST bring ID. Cost is a donation of $35 per person in advance, $30 prepaid for groups of five or more, or $40 at the door. Dress code is track attire. For more information or to make reservations, call 502.451.4266.