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Coach Mark Stoops feels unique connection with 2014 Keeneland Maker's Mark bottle

University of Kentucky head football coach Mark Stoops has lived much of his life with a keen awareness of the importance of cardiac care following his father’s untimely death at age 54 from a heart attack. So when the coach was selected to be featured on the 2014 Keeneland Maker’s Mark bottle with proceeds going to benefit the Gill Heart Institute at UK HealthCare, he found that to be a cause he could fully endorse.

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“I’m certainly honored to be on the label of this year’s bottle, especially with the proceeds helping to bring ever-better cardiac care to the people of Kentucky,” Stoops said. “I’ve been here long enough to appreciate both the significance of the Gill Heart Institute’s work and the unique role this commemorative bottle plays to help support it. I’m deeply grateful to Keeneland and Maker’s Mark for making this happen.”

This is the third year that proceeds from the Keeneland bottle will be directed to the institute, with a goal of $500,000 contributed by Maker’s Mark over all three years combined.

“Since we wanted to continue supporting the Gill Heart Institute this year, Coach Stoops was an obvious choice to feature on the bottle,” said Maker’s Mark Chief Operating Officer Rob Samuels. “He’s bringing a new sense of excitement and anticipation to the UK football program, and coupling that with his sensitivity for cardiac care made it an easy call for him to be this year’s honoree.”

Maker’s Mark has produced 10,000 numbered, limited-edition bottles that will be available statewide Friday, April 4, the opening day of Keeneland’s Spring 2014 meeting. Retailers will set their own prices, but the bottles typically cost around $52.

“Gill Heart Institute is Kentucky’s most comprehensive heart program, caring for patients in Lexington as well as those at nearly a dozen outreach sites across the Commonwealth,” said Dr. Michael Karpf, UK Executive Vice President for Health Affairs. “Through the support of Coach Stoops, Maker’s Mark and Keeneland, we are able to further advance a program that is critical to meeting the health care needs of Kentuckians. On behalf of Gill Heart’s team of cardiologists, heart surgeons, researchers and numerous other health care professionals, and even more importantly our patients and their families, we thank you for the support you have continued to bestow upon UK HealthCare.”

Over the 18 years that Maker’s Mark has partnered with Keeneland to produce an annual commemorative bottle, some $7.1 million has been raised for various charities throughout central Kentucky.

“Keeneland is proud to be part of this extraordinary team, and to help support the vital work of the Gill Heart Institute,” said Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason.

Coach Stoops, Rob Samuels, Maker’s Mark Chairman Emeritus Bill Samuels Jr., and Thomason will be available to sign already-purchased bottles on Friday, April 11, at Keeneland beginning at 6:30 a.m. Tickets for the signing will be distributed at Keeneland beginning at 10 p.m. on Thursday, April 10. There will be no bottles for sale at the event, and all those participating must be 21 years or age or older.

From Keeneland

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