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Kentucky Derby has local connection
Botelho with the other Princesses. - photo by Picture provided

The Kentucky Derby will have a bit of a Richmond Hill connection this year.

Charis Botelho, along with four other women, has been selected to be part of the Princesses for the 2008 Kentucky Derby Festival court. The names were announced earlier this month.

Botelho’s family has lived in Richmond Hill for the last four years, having moved from Kentucky about the same time that Botelho started college at the University of Louisville. She is currently living in Ft. Campbell, Ky., where she is majoring in Biology.

“I’m really honored to be a part of this. The royal court started after the first year of the festival, so this is its 50th anniversary,” Botelho said. “I found out a lot about the festival through former princesses, one of the girls was actually my big sister in my sorority.”

Botelho said their first day as part of the royal court will start at 6:30 a.m. and go all the way to 7 p.m. – likely a sign of the hard work that is part of being a princess – but she’s ready for the challenge.

As a member of the court, Botelho and her fellow princesses will represent the Derby Festival and the City of Louisville as official ambassadors for the springtime tradition of the Kentucky Derby Festival. They will attend roughly every Derby event, starting with the Poster Premiere on Jan. 31 and ending with the Republic Bank Pegasus Parade on May 1, totaling more than 70 events during the festivities. They will also attend the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs and make visits to schools to discuss the importance of volunteerism.

Botelho is a Provost’s Hallmark Award Scholar, a McConnell Scholar and a Cardinal Host for the University of Louisville President’s Office.

“In Louisville, I’ve been really involved with the Girl Scouts and the Salvation Army,” she said. “I was also the chair for my sorority’s 5K run and we raised money for Prevent Child Abuse America through that,” she said, noting that after graduation, she'll attend the University of Kentucky Dental School in the fall.

Botelho’s mother, Marie, said her daughter has always been an active student.

“She was also the 2006 University of Louisville Homecoming Queen, which is pretty neat. She’s a really involved student, especially with the Kappa Delta sorority and all they do with their community service,” she said. “We’re very excited that she was able to participate in something like this."

Marie Botelho said the Botelho's are a typical military family - from all over - but they have truly enjoyed their stay in Georgia so far. Their oldest daughter also lives in Kentucky and their son, Ben, is a senior at Richmond Hill High School. He was awarded the key to the city of Richmond Hill last year for his work as a cancer survivor.

The Botelho family hopes to travel and see at least one of the events during the festival.

The five princesses were chosen from 15 finalists out of more than 90 original applicants. Each woman will receive at $2,000 scholarship and one of the five princesses will be crowned the Derby Festival Queen by a spin-of-the-wheel at the annual Fillies’ Derby Ball in April.

In order to be considered for the program, Botelho has had to maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average and was selected by a panel of judges based on her knowledge of the Derby Festival, poise, intelligence, personality and campus and community involvement. The other women chosen along with Bortelho to serve in the royal court include Kathryn Allen and Carly Schneider of Louisville, Ky., Tale’a Drummer of Lexington, Ky., Christen Herbst of Columbia, Ky., December Parker of Benton, Ky.

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