Whitney's giving continues posthumously; auction benefits medical center for backstretch workers

Marylou Whitney of Marylou Whitney Stables talks to reporters after being inducted to the New York Racing Association 2015 Saratoga Walk of Fame after being honored for her achievements during the annual Red Jacket Ceremony at Saratoga Race Course on Friday, Aug. 28, 2015 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Marylou Whitney of Marylou Whitney Stables talks to reporters after being inducted to the New York Racing Association 2015 Saratoga Walk of Fame after being honored for her achievements during the annual Red Jacket Ceremony at Saratoga Race Course on Friday, Aug. 28, 2015 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. | Photo: AP Photo / Hans Pennink.

Mark Mulholland
Updated: July 27, 2020 07:03 PM
Created: July 27, 2020 06:14 PM

SARATOGA SPRINGS - You can own a scarf, a hat or a handbag owned by Marylou Whitney.

All week, you can bid on 1,500 items that belong to Whitney who passed last July at the age of 93. 

She was known as much for her fashion as her philanthropy, and she was always especially eager to help backstretch workers.

"Backstretch workers, they are the sport's unsung heroes," Whitney said during a speech at the Eclipse Award ceremony in 2010.

Widower John Hendrickson says it's been a hard year.

"I talk to her every day," said Hendrickson. "The one thing I miss the most is her laugh."

While sorting through her clothing and jewelry, including the 60-carat total weight diamond choker he gave her as a birthday present, Hendrickson got the idea to auction her items, including a Jaguar convertible, with all proceeds to build a medical clinic on the backstretch, replacing the small trailer there now.  

"She always told me that the medical clinic back here was an embarrassment. They needed to have better. This has to be the summer place to be for everyone," Hendrickson said.

"What Marylou Whitney meant to the backstretch was a real like a welcoming hug to them all and this is a way of doing that in a much deeper way," said Paul Ruchames, executive director of the Backstretch Employee Service Team.

Saratoga Hospital will build and run it.

Whatever the auction, which runs through Saturday night at midnight doesn't cover, Hendrickson will. It's a gift for Marylou that will benefit thousands of people.

"That's what she was all about. Her legacy of giving continues."

MORE INFORMATION: Marylou Whitney Collection


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