This weekend, many of us will be watching the biggest race of the year when it comes to horse racing: The 147th running of the Kentucky Derby takes place this Saturday.

At home, volunteers with the non-profit known as Sunshine Horses will also be watching the race as part of a virtual gala fundraiser. Spectrum News caught up with volunteers to learn more about the group and their mission.

Sunshine Horses volunteer Jan Lower, 78, loves horses.

“I’ve been around horses since I was 10. So, it’s kind of in my blood,” said Lower.

For the past thirteen years, Jan has been volunteering at Sunshine Horses — a non-profit group with about 100 people who give up their time.

Volunteers help these animals — many of them former harness race horses — find better homes.

“The overall mission is to take horses retired off the racetrack. They have to retire when they’re 14, or have been injured, or not making money, and finding them another purpose,” said Lower.

But it’s more than just taking these precious animals in. Spend just a few minutes here and you can tell volunteers like Jan have a true connection with these animals. In order to properly care for these horses, there has to be that connection.

Alyssa Taylor is a senior at West Genesee High School and started as a volunteer a few months ago.

“It’s really great to be able to connect with these horses that you know some of them don’t have the best pasts. And, to be able to show them that people can be good and, you know, show you comfort and love is really a great experience,” said Taylor.

When the horses are brought to Sunshine by their owners, the mission is simple: Find them a good home.

“We guarantee that person that we will find a good home. They’ll have a permanent good home; a forever home. If that home doesn’t work out, they come back to us,” said Lower.

Donations are helpful to continue to allow the non-profit to function. There are several fundraisers and events scheduled for the next few months. For more information, just visit