02/27/20 – DERBY FESTIVAL FORECASTS A PERFECT KICK-OFF WITH SPEAKER GINGER ZEE

February 27, 2020. Louisville, KY. – ABC News’ Chief Meteorologist, Ginger Zee, will be the featured speaker at the 64th Annual They’re Off! Luncheon on Friday, April 17. Zee covers the nation’s weather headlines on Good Morning America and across other ABC News broadcasts and digital platforms. The luncheon, first held in 1957, serves as the time-honored kick-off to each year’s Festival. It’s the second-oldest event on the Festival schedule.

For the past fifteen years, Zee has covered nearly every major weather event – from Hurricane Katrina to Hurricane Sandy; from the Colorado floods and wildfires to the aftermath of tornadoes all over the nation; and from blizzards in Boston to record breaking heat in Death Valley. She also hosts an ABC News original digital series, Food Forecast, focused on climate and its impact on agriculture.

A storm-chaser since college, Zee has a genuine passion for the atmosphere and is dedicated to getting young people interested in science. She lends her voice to the character Dr. Zephyr Skye, the storm-chasing alien of Disney Junior’s hit show Miles from Tomorrowland. Zee and her husband also star in Renovation Realties: Ben and Ginger on DIY Network.

Outside of her work on television, Zee published her New York Times best-selling memoir: Natural Disaster: I Cover Them, I am One. Her memoir details her journey of being a depressed meteorologist starting her career to the first female chief network meteorologist at a major network. After graduating from Valparaiso, she worked her way up through various news outlets in the Midwest, but, in her words, Zee says she was avoiding the real storm brewing at home. Zee hopes to spread a message of resilience and self-care with her own personal story.

An Emmy Award-winning meteorologist, Zee attended Valparaiso University and holds a Bachelor of
Science degree in meteorology. She also holds the Certified Broadcast Meteorologist seal from the American Meteorological Society. She resides in New York City with her husband and son.

The luncheon begins at 11:30 a.m. on April 17, in the Grand Ballroom of the Galt House East Hotel – site of the festive event since 1974. This year’s event will also feature the presentation of the Volunteer of the Year Award and the Fifth Third Bank Silver Horseshoe Award for service to the community. Tickets go on sale March 6th, and are $85 each or $680 for a table of eight. To purchase tickets or to get additional information, please call (502) 584-FEST or visit KDF.org.

Zee joins Hannah Storm, Mike Tirico, Seth Davis, Jay Bilas, Kenny Mayne, Dick Vitale, Terry Bradshaw, Erin Andrews, Bill Walton, Archie Manning, Greg Gumbel, Magic Johnson, Julius Erving, Larry King, Bob Costas, Robin Roberts, Lily Tomlin, James Earl Jones, Phil Simms and Howard Cosell in a long list of luminaries who have entertained They’re Off! Luncheon audiences for the past 63 years.

Contributing sponsors for the event are Fifth Third Bank and The Galt House. Media Sponsor: Business First.

Since 1956, the Derby Festival has worked to bring the community together in celebration. The Festival is an independent community organization supported by 4,000 volunteers, 400 businesses and civic groups, Pegasus Pin sponsorships and event participation. This involvement has made the Festival the largest single attended event in Kentucky and one of the leading community celebrations in the world.

April 18