Tailgating for Good

Kelsey Petrino Scott and Joey Wagner.

The Petrino Family Foundation’s profound fundraising efforts continue

By Baylee Pendleton

Photos by Kathryn Harrington

As summer draws to a close and cooler weather approaches, so does college football season. Our city shines in the fall, and the Petrino Family Foundation uses this time to facilitate its charitable work in a special way.

We caught up with executive director Kelsey Petrino Scott and board member Joey Wagner of the Petrino Family Foundation to discuss the organization’s history, how it has evolved over time and its exciting new initiatives.

The foundation was created in 2014 by University of Louisville head football coach Bobby Petrino and his family. The organization began its charitable work with a commitment to Norton Children’s Hospital to fund a new trauma room, now named the Petrino Family Foundation Trauma Room. By the end of 2018, the foundation will have donated $850,000 to the children’s hospital. Since its inception, the foundation has added several new initiatives, including a popular and festive fundraising event, the Petrino Family Foundation Tailgate Party.

Celebrating five years this season, the tailgate parties open three hours before every UofL home game and are held inside the Trager Center (the Cardinal football team’s indoor practice facility). Petrino Scott loves the atmosphere created at the events. “Our tailgaters get to tailgate on an exact replica of the Cardinal Football playing field,” she said. “We have a rotating menu of locally-catered food, and each guest gets two drinks on the house (in addition to water and sodas being free). We have exclusive performances by the marching band and national championship-winning (Ladybirds), pregame on-field access opportunities, bouncy houses and new this year, a corn-hole tournament.”

Tailgaters can choose from several sponsorship levels ranging from $100 to $30,000. Wagner commented on the 2017 event: “Last year was the most successful year of our tailgates. Proceeds from the tailgate helped benefit Norton Children’s Hospital, the Petrino Family Foundation Scholarship, the Student Marching Band, the UofL Spirit Team, Family Scholar House, Blessings in a Backpack, 2018 Louisville Flood Relief, Jamon Brown Foundation, the Coalition for the Homeless, Fund for the Arts, Kids Cancer Alliance and the Parklands.” By the end of 2018, the foundation will have donated $222,250 to these organizations and others.

The Petrino Family Foundation gives back to the community in dozens of ways, many of which involve partnership with UofL. The foundation’s Cardinal Covenant Scholarship ensures a full college education to a financially disadvantaged Kentucky student whose family lives at or below 150 percent of the poverty level. The scholarship’s inaugural recipient, Ra’vonte Harbin, is set to graduate this coming spring. The foundation also facilitates a Courage Camp for patients at Norton Children’s Hospital. Each year, 100 children from the hospital are invited – along with their siblings – to participate in a half-day football camp with the university’s football team.

This spring, the foundation partnered with the City of Louisville to donate $100,000 to set up the Louisville Flood Relief Fund as part of its #LoveLouisville campaign. Families displaced or affected by the devastating flooding this year were able to apply for up to $1,000 to assist with emergency expenses and recovery.

Petrino Scott described her role of executive director as multifaceted: “A lot of what I do is event planning. I also get to go out and visit different charities and organizations around Louisville. I do a lot of community building work and projects, graphic design-type stuff, social media marketing and PR and office management type stuff. I am one of two paid members of the foundation, the other being my sister Katie, who is the deputy director. Between the two of us, we are responsible for running an organization that has averaged raising around half a million dollars for the last few years.”

As it celebrates $1,072,250 donated by the end of this year, the Petrino Family Foundation is looking to the future and excited to expand its #LoveLouisville campaign, an initiative to spread kindness to different parts of the community. Members of the foundation also look forward to their 2019 fundraising events, the Evening of X’s and O’s Dinner at Churchill Downs and the Spring Golf Classic & Cocktail Party.

“The Petrino family loves this community so much,” Wagner affirmed, “and I love seeing how much the foundation has given back to the city.” VT