In the Metro East, where can you find an array of fabulous hats, boundless energy, great fun and a love for supporting community work? The answer is the Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Meridian Society’s annual Meridian Derby.
The eighth annual Meridian Derby was held Tuesday, May 7 at Fairmount Park Racetrack’s Top of the Turf in Collinsville. Approximately 225 people, arrayed in their derby finest, enjoyed an afternoon of food, fun, fellowship and horseracing. TheBank of Edwardsville, Busey Bank sponsored the event.
“Through pooled resources and collective giving, the women of the Meridian Society demonstrate a spirit of philanthropy and a commitment to making a positive impact in the community,” said Julie Babington, director of annual giving with the SIUE Foundation. “We are so proud of the Meridian Society for their work to award more than $329,000 to 128 SIUE community-based projects.”
A sample of projects that the Meridian Society supports include:
- The Children’s Quilting Project: Healing Through Art: unites local artist volunteers from the community and children from the SIUE East St. Louis Project Success program to create a quilt
- Opera Edwardsville and SIUE Opera Theater Outreach: a cultural and educational program that enhances opera experience, and inspires future generations of artists and audiences offering music with plots based on fairy tales, and relevant topics such as anti-bullying
- Development and Implementation of a Drugs of Abuse Prevention Education Badge for Boy Scouts: The SIUE School of Pharmacy and Boy Scouts of America are developing the badge to educate youth on the dangers of misuse and abuse of prescription drugs and over the counter medications
“When I saw all the good that the Meridian Society did in the community, I couldn’t help but join,” said member Mary Trice, of Edwardsville.
Founding member Kay Werner, of Edwardsville, has attended six derbies. “It’s just a wonderful event,” she said. “You get to see so many women with so many connections, and we get to dress up and wear our hats.”
“At the Derby, you get to see people you normally don’t see,” said member Fredna Scroggins, EdD, of Edwardsville. Scroggins earned her doctorate in education from SIUE in 1981. “I’m glad to be part of the Meridian Society. We support programs that otherwise would not have support. We help connect SIUE to the community.”
The highlight of the derby included coveted awards in five categories. Winning this year’s awards were:
- Biggest Hat: Jackie Keller
- Best Hat: Stephanie Richter
- Best Member Hat: Shelly Price-Williams
- Most Glamorous Hat: Toni Perrin
- Hattitude: Laverne Williams
Photos: Meridian Society members display their hats at the 2019 Meridian Derby at Fairmount Park.