You provide the head; charity auction has the hats

This is very short notice, ladies, but there is an event this evening at Victorian Square that you really ought to attend if you need a Derby hat.

The Lexington Cancer Foundation Inc. is hosting Hats for Life, a silent auction ­featuring at least 100 new or gently worn hats.

I have a friend who just got chills ­reading that sentence. Buying hats and shoes does that to her.

Kristi Martin, executive director of the foundation, said that the hats have come from milliners throughout the country and that some have been donated by women who wore their treasures only once.

Proceeds will be donated to the ­emergency fund at the Lexington Hope Lodge, the American Cancer Society's free housing facility on the University of ­Kentucky campus for families of cancer patients who are receiving treatment.

The Lexington Foundation is dedicated to raising money and awareness in the fight against cancer, Martin said.

”It is our vision to become a leading resource of funding and information to ­dramatically reduce the incidence and ­suffering caused by cancer,“ she said.

Hope Lodge, at 1500 College Way between Alumni and Cooper drives, is a logical beneficiary of that vision. It features a common area with a large dining area and four kitchenettes on the first floor, and 16 suites each on the second and third floors.

Lodge director Sheldon Kozee said each suite is designed for three people, including the patient, and features two queen-size beds and a bath, like a hotel room. The patient and family members can stay as long as the patient is receiving treatment.

Earlier this week, Kozee said the lodge was filled to capacity.

The Lexington Cancer Foundation also donated two vans to the lodge when it opened last year, to transport patients to any treatment facility in Lexington.

”I don't know what we would do without the Lexington foundation,“ he said.

The foundation was established in 2004 by 50 women, many of whom live in Kentucky and who had volunteered in the fight against cancer for years. The non-profit foundation has donated $1 million since then, including more than $350,000 last year.

The foundation also hosts the Lexington Derby Ball, scheduled for May 2 at Donamire Farm, and a wine auction in the fall.

The foundation accepts grant proposals from January until June from organizations or individuals who are involved in cancer research, patient care or cancer education, Martin said.

Money from Hats for Life will go to buy gas, food or telephone cards for those at the lodge, Martin said.

”We do anything we can to help the patients and their families,“ she said.

Plans for Hats for Life began two years ago when a few board members were talking about a similar event in Louisville and the board decided to hold one of its own, Martin said.

Victorian Square donated space in the atrium, and the foundation began contacting milliners and women in the horse industry for hats.

Tickets to the event are $30.

And did I mention there are only 23 days until the Derby?