Thousands of Central Kentucky schoolchildren could go to the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games thanks to $1 million in donations solicited by the Games' title sponsor.
Alltech president Pearse Lyons said he has started a fund — Give a Kid a Chance — that has raised $1 million, much of it donated by Alltech's international business partners. That much money could buy 40,000 general admission tickets, which sell for $25 each.
"We want to make it a school excursion where children can learn about things like the equine industry or agriculture," Lyons said Monday.
Lyons met Monday morning with several school superintendents, including Fayette County's Stu Silberman.
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Silberman said he sent an e-mail message to principals, asking them to gauge interest in the plan.
"We are very, very excited," Silberman said. "We see this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our kids."
Silberman said the specifics are being worked out, but he said it could play to different student interests. For example, he'd like to target high school agriculture and biology students, who could learn about Alltech's nutritional supplements, bio fuels and agriculture programs at The Alltech Experience. Students of French could make sure to see the pavilion for Normandy, the area of France where the Games will be held in 2014.
At the lower levels, students would take field trips to the Kentucky Horse Park, Silberman said. Or the district might organize trips for families to go on Fayette County buses when school is out during the Games, Oct. 6 to 8. Children 12 and younger do not have to pay for general admission.
That many students would help overall attendance at the Games and in turn would drive concessions sales. But Lyons said his main goal was to show students the wide array of careers possible through Kentucky's horses and agriculture.
Silberman said he will see during the next few days what the response level is from parents, students and school officials.
"This is what we know at this point — some of our kids would not have had the opportunity to go without Pearse Lyons and Alltech stepping up, and we want to make sure we're taking advantage of this opportunity," Silberman said.