Those that knew Nicky Hayden best, say the 2006 MotoGP World Champion had a soft spot for children, he loved giving back and he loved Owensboro.
With those thoughts in mind, Nicky’s family decided to set up the Nicky Hayden Memorial Fund. It was a way to keep giving back in honor of Nicky after his unexpected death in May of 2017 from a tragic cycling accident in Italy while training between motorcycle races.
The memorial fund is also a way for Nicky’s extended family, friends and fans around the world to pay their respects in the form of a donation.
So, on June 8th, in a ceremony at the unveiling of the “Kentucky Kid” statue on the front lawn of the Owensboro Convention Center, the first round of fund distributions was awarded in support of several local programs benefiting kids.
Shortly before Owensboro Mayor Tom Watson officially declared 6/9/18 (Editor’s note: Nicky’s racing number was #69) “Nicky Hayden Day” in the city of Owensboro, Nicky’s older brother Tommy publicly thanked everyone who had supported fundraising events or made donations
to the Nicky Hayden Memorial Fund.
“Our goal is to grow this and keep giving back to continue touching people’s lives just as Nicky would have done if he was still here,” Tommy said.
As part of the ceremony, the Cliff Hagan Boys & Girls Club was the recipient of a $15,000 grant from the Nicky Hayden Memorial Fund which the club used to purchase a van to transport kids from Southern Oaks Elementary and for other activities.
Director Steve Winkler told Owensboro Times this week the van is now able to give 36 more youth a chance to participate in the Boys & Girls Club after school program.
“Many of those kids attend during summer programing but do not have the means after school where they can achieve academic success, healthy life styles and build character and leadership skills,” Winkler said. “We are blessed to have such a wonderful foundation that invests in the future of our community youth.”
Daviess County Public Schools was the other recipient of a Nicky Hayden Memorial Fund grant awarded at the statue unveiling as $5,000 to be split between the Family Resource Centers at West Louisville Elementary School and Audubon Elementary School.
“This donation will make a difference in the lives of students right here in Owensboro by supporting our backpack program which feeds students for an entire school year,” said Heather McCarty, then Family Resource Coordinator at West Louisville Elementary.
Kelly May, Family Resource Coordinator at Audubon Elementary school, will use a portion of those funds to purchase books that will be sent to homes during summer months.
“This gift will also enrich children’s lives by placing books in the hands of kids that need
them. We are honored to be a part of programs serving children in honor of Nicky Hayden,” Kelly May said.
Completely separate from the Nicky Hayden Memorial Fund, the Hayden family recently made significant contributions of their own to two local agencies that also serve children.
The family purchased land across the street from the Pitino Shelter, which they then donated to the Pitino Shelter to be used for a 12-unit apartment complex bearing Nicky’s name.
“These units will be nice, well-built, low-cost apartments for women or families with children that need help getting back on their feet,” director Thad Gunderson explained. “They will function similar to our transitional houses, but there will be no time limit.”
With the land secured, the Pitino Shelter is pursuing two Kentucky housing grants to pay for construction. Gunderson said they should know in November when they can break ground.
“In a perfect world, the apartments should be up in a year,” Gunderson said.
Just a few blocks away, the Haydens also purchased and donated land to the St. Joseph’s Peace Mission for Children that will be used to build the Hayden Home for Girls. With plans to open in 2019, the Hayden Home for Girls will serve as a long-term facility for eight girls between the ages of 12 and 18.
Director Paula Yevincy says the Peace Mission has been talking about that particular piece of property, which is adjacent to the Yewell Home for Boys, for over 10 years.
“The Yewell Home (for boys) is such a great asset. It fills a need and we keep a waiting list for young men. The Hayden Home (for girls) will now offer a longer term care home for young women until they can transition into a healthier, more stable place than when they came to us, whether that’s being adopted or returning to family,” Yevincy said. “We feel truly blessed to have this opportunity now and Owensboro should feel blessed too. This would never have happened this fast without the Haydens’ donation to get the project started.”