After watching a soldier who had suffered traumatic injury from an IED being carried off a passenger plane, thoroughbred owner George “Chip” McEwen decided his horse–Uncle Sigh–would race for the Wounded Warrior Project going forward. This weekend, Uncle Sigh races out of the third gate at Churchill Downs. At 30-1, Uncle Sigh looks like an underdog. But the team behind the horse knows that many of the wounded warriors they run for overcame tougher odds.
According to the Courier Journal, McEwen said that the soldier he glimpsed on the plane gave “everyone a thumbs up” as his father carried him off the plane.
“That’s the moment that changed everything for me,” McEwen told the paper. “When you think about somebody who’s been wounded in war, you don’t really think about their family members and about how that entire dynamic is changed forever–all because they put their lives on the line to protect our freedom.”
“Within a matter of months, McEwen received the Jockey Club’s approval to change the name of his stables to Wounded Warrior Stables and switch to yellow silks emblazoned with purple hearts.”
McEwen also started giving “10 percent of his horses’ earning to charities…such as Retrieving Freedom, the Wounded Warrior Project, and the Navy SEAL Foundation.” He has given than $160,000 to date.
When the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby takes place on May 3rd, McEwen will host “a solider who lost both legs in Afghanistan and a family whose son was killed in Iraq.”
Uncle Sigh will be running to win in the Derby, and McEwen is thrilled to be sharing “the greatest two minutes” in sports with military personnel and their families.
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