Southern hospitality was brought to Hollywood Thursday night at the 4th Annual Unbridled Eve Derby Prelude Party. Held on the rooftop pool deck of The London West Hollywood, the Hollywood kick-off party to the Kentucky Derby combined talent from both film and television as well as acclaimed jockeys, athletes and musicians. Colin Egglesfield, Gene Simmons & Shannon Tweed, Kate Flannery, Jason London, Cris Judd, Anthony Anderson, Quinton Aaron, Keith Robinson, Omar Benson Miller, Hank Baskett, Aldis Hodge, Edwin Hodge, Natalie Cole, Glynn Turman, D.B. Sweeney, Warren Moon, Bob Guiney, Jenni Pulos, Florence Henderson, and Soulja Boy were just some of the celebrities in attendance to the invitation-only cocktail party, which for the third year benefited Blessings in a Backpack, a non-profit organization currently feeding nearly 62,000 children in 437 schools in 42 U.S. states and three countries - Canada, Columbia and Haiti.
For singer Natalie Cole, the event's tie in to the charity was a major factor in her attendance. “I love what they're doing with Blessings in a Backpack. It is just precious,” said the Grammy winner. “I'm all for any kind of organization that feeds children, that looks after children that aren't able to take care of themselves.”
The unique program is designed to feed elementary school children whose families qualify for the federal Free and Reduced Price Meal program, and have little to no food on the weekends.
The event is presented by Derby hostesses- The York Sisters- Tonya York Dees and Tammy York Day, who every year host the Unbridled Eve Gala the night before the Kentucky Derby, and who are very passionate about their star-studded making a difference for children in need.
“We love Blessings in a Backpack because it is so grassroots fundamental. $80 truly makes a difference in a child's life for an entire year,” said Tonya York Dees. “We'll fill with a backpack with food every Friday for them to take home on the weekends during the school year. There are Blessings in a Backpack chapters in 38 states. There is one right here in LA. We just want to continue to make a difference, get more people here involved and aware of it, because they need volunteers, they need more people to help and support.”
“Twilight's” Marisa Quinn was one of those people happy to raise awareness on the cause. “It kind of breaks my heart to think that any child would go hungry and you can't feed a child's mind until you've fed their little tummy, “ said Quinn. “I've seen those kids with my eyes and they deserve to be fed and play on the weekends and not wonder where their next meal is coming from. So anything that I can do to help a charity like that I'm there.”
Blessings in a Backpack is a hybrid of private sector funding and public partnership carried out in public schools, feeding the future of America, one school at a time.
“Anything I can do to help support Blessings in a Backpack, because it is such a great organization, anything I can do to come out and help I'm happy to do,” said “The Client List” actor Colin Egglesfield.
In addition to the gourmet food, provided by Gordon Ramsey's restaurant at the The London, guests also enjoyed a silent auction featuring premiere tickets to attend The 139th Kentucky Derby, a custom made leather jacket from Kaptain Leather Designs, diamond men’s watch and tickets to attend the final round of the Masters golf tournament.
The York sisters said it is because of the celebrity involvement in the Kentucky Derby and the generosity of their sponsors that they love coming to the city of angels every year for this bash. “We absolutely love LA. The people here have been so supportive. And our Derby eve gala, the bridaleve, is very celebrity-attended. The Derby is very celebrity attended, so it kind of makes sense with LA being one of the celebrity Mecca's,” said Tammy York Day.
The 139th Kentucky Derby will place on the first Saturday in May and the Unbridled Eve Gala on Friday, May 3rd in Louisville, KY at the Galt House Hotel & Suites.