First Lady Beshear is committed to combating breast cancer, which is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths among women in Kentucky. In 2008, she founded Horses and Hope with the Kentucky Cancer Program (KCP). The mission of Horses and Hope is to work alongside the state’s equine industry to provide breast cancer awareness, education, screenings, and treatment referrals. To date, Horses and Hope has reached nearly 1 million race track and horse show attendees, and educated nearly 16,000 equine employees. The program has screened nearly 700 workers and detected breast cancer in three individuals who have all received treatment. For more information, visit www.horsesandhope.org.
The Celebration of Hope is an annual gathering of survivors and advocates that was started by former First Lady Judi Patton. The event coincides with Kentucky Derby week, and has developed into a celebration of survivorship that attracts nationally-known figures and serves as an opportunity to educate Kentuckians about breast cancer awareness each year.
Graduate Kentucky was a statewide initiative formed in 2008 in order to raise the high school graduation rate in Kentucky. Focusing on drop-out prevention and community involvement, Mrs. Beshear worked with educators, parents and advocates across the state in support of the initiative. Throughout five legislative sessions, she led the push for legislation to keep students in school, and in March 2013, the General Assembly at long last passed a bill which raised the compulsory attendance age of Kentucky high school students to 18.
To encourage school districts to accept the new policy immediately, the Governor and First Lady launched the Blitz to 96, an effort to get the 96 districts needed to trigger a statewide adoption of the policy, to voluntarily adopt the new rule. School districts responded quickly and enthusiastically, with 96 districts approving the policy within two weeks. As of January 2015, all 173 Kentucky school districts have adopted the policy and it will take effect for most districts beginning with the 2015-16 school year.
Shop and Share is an annual, one-day goods drive that Mrs. Beshear launched in 2008 to benefit the 15 Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence (KCADV) shelters across the state.
Each year, shoppers at Kroger, Food City and Super Dollar Discount Food stores donate needed goods such as food items, hygiene products and cleaning supplies to shelters. To date, the program has raised more than $3 million in monetary and goods donations for victims of domestic violence throughout Kentucky. Click here for more.
Mrs. Beshear launched the Governor’s Garden initiative in 2009 to encourage schools and other community organizations to cultivate their own gardens in an effort to educate Kentuckians about the health and economic benefits of community gardening and utilizing locally grown foods.
Currently, there are six Governor’s Garden locations and numerous other garden sites across Kentucky that have been inspired by this initiative. All produce harvested from each official Governor’s Garden site is donated to local soup kitchens and food pantries or is prepared at on-site kitchens. Visit the official Governor’s Garden website at agpolicy.ky.gov/gardens.
Mrs. Beshear serves as a Scholastic Reading Ambassador, encouraging Kentucky students to read throughout the year, especially during the summer months. Every spring, she selects one or two Kentucky elementary schools to receive a 500 Scholastic book donation for their library.
Mrs. Beshear also serves as a collaborative partner for the annual week-long Kentucky Literacy Celebration, traveling to schools, adult education centers and libraries across the state to promote reading and learn about community literacy programs.
The First Lady works to boost tourism and support economic development by promoting Kentucky as an ideal destination for outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, horseback riding, off-road vehicle activities, hunting, fishing and more. www.kentuckytourism.com
Mrs. Beshear has been a driving force behind the creation of Dawkins Line Rail Trail in Eastern Kentucky, a former rail line that will become the longest trail in the state when complete. The Dawkins Line is modeled after a highly successful rails-to-trails project in southwest Virginia that attracts more 200,000 visitors a year and has led to new businesses. Phase I of the Dawkins Line opened in 2013 and the project is already yielding a positive economic impact.
Mrs. Beshear has advocated for film tax incentives and urged support for Kentucky’s film industry during her time as First Lady. She testified in the 2009 special session in support of film incentives and then again in 2015 to expand the program to benefit local film makers and give Kentucky a more competitive advantage against other states. As a result of the initial passage of film incentive legislation, Disney expanded shooting of the film Secretariat to several weeks in Kentucky. Since then, the Commonwealth has served as the backdrop in many other films including 23 Blast, Where Hope Grows and Runoff.
Kentucky’s aggressive package of rebates and tax incentives for film production, makes it one of the more affordable film production locations in the country. For more information, please visit www.kyfilmoffice.com.