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Special Panama Hats Meld Fashion, Charity
A Southern Indiana company is bringing a taste of Ecuador to Churchill Downs this year, all in the name of helping others.
Having created the official Panama hats of the 137th Kentucky Derby which have already generated an online buzz, Panador will make a fresh fashion statement by offering 137 Limited Edition, high-grade Kentucky Derby Hats, all made by artisans in Ecuador. The company will auction the first two of the individually numbered hats during the Friday Night Auction at the Oaks. Proceeds from the auction of the hats will benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
Panador Hats are made from a special straw that grows at the base of the Andes Mountains. The straw is hand-woven into the finest Panama hats on the market by the people of Cuenca, Ecuador. Through a business initiative, Panador is working with the United Nations and the U.S. Agency for International Development to help improve the area's economy and provide new markets for Ecuadorian products. The ten-year partnership between Panador and Cuenca is making life better for the hard-working weavers and others associated with Panama hat production.
Walter Pieper, founder of the company and a stage four cancer survivor, is hoping the auction will bring added attention to the work of the Komen Foundation, while providing auction winners with a special piece to add to their Derby Day wardrobe.
"This is the first time the Kentucky Derby has partnered with a Panama hat company and formally linked the world's most prominent hat event to the legendary Panama hat. I'm thrilled the Derby decided to give the best summer hat the recognition it deserves."
The Limited Edition Kentucky Derby Panama Hats are painstakingly hand made and will bring a unique, fresh style to the festivities in and around the first Saturday in May.
In addition to the 137 Limited Edition Kentucky Derby Panama Hats, Panador is offering 13 styles of Panama hats through the Kentucky Derby online store, at www.PanadorHats.com and inside Churchill Downs. Most are priced at less than $100.
"The Panama hat is called 'The Prince of Hats'," said Pieper. "It has a history that dates back centuries. It's not one of those trendy things that'll be gone next year. Panama hats are classic. They're incredibly fun and incredibly functional at keeping your head cool and keeping the sun out of your eyes when watching the races or just working at home in your garden. We're thankful, but not surprised that the Derby recognized what a perfect fit this is."
Included in the collection Panador has brought to the 2011 Derby party is another first: Pink Panama hats. Panador has created two ladies' styles that are available for women who choose to make a statement on Pink Out Day at the Kentucky Oaks.
Walter Pieper is available to talk about any of the initiatives above both before and during Derby week.
For more information, visit PanadorHats.com and www.PanamaHatFacts.com. You can also find Panador on Facebook (Facebook.com/
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The Panador Hat Company sells only handwoven straw hats — Panama hats — made by Ecuadorian artisans.