Nicky Hayden was more than a professional motorcycle racer—he was also a philanthropist.
Prior to his death in 2017, Hayden regularly donated to charities in Owensboro and gave back to his community. Since his passing, his family has worked to keep his legacy of giving alive by starting a foundation in his memory.
The Nicky Hayden Memorial Foundation funds local charities in the Owensboro community that help children.
According to the Foundation’s website, the 2006 MotoGP World Champion “loved where he came from. He loved to give back and he loved children. The fund is being set up in order to help local children in the community he loved so much.”
The Nicky Hayden Memorial Foundation is a component fund of the Green River Area Community Foundation, an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Louisville.
Jenny Hayden Hansler, Nicky’s sister, said the Foundation started right after his death, and since its inception has given thousands of dollars to numerous charities in Owensboro.
“In the last year, we have given the Cliff Hagan Boys and Girls Club a new van to allow them to get more boys and girls to the club where they had no transportation before,” she said. “We want to be able to do as much as we can for children in Owensboro and Daviess County.”
The van transports 36 youth to participate in the club’s after school program. Without the van, these kids would not get that opportunity.
Hansler said the Foundation has also contributed to the Daviess County Public School System, Goodfellows Club of Owensboro, Fresh Start for Women, Wendell Foster and St. Benedicts Homeless Shelter.
In the last two years, the Foundation has also purchased books and food for children in need and provided countless resources to underprivileged youth in the area.
“This gift will also enrich children’s lives by placing books in the hands of kids that need them. We are honored to be a part of programs serving children in honor of Nicky Hayden,” Kelly May, Family Resource Coordinator at Audubon Elementary school told the Owensboro Times last year.
Hansler said the Foundation mainly focuses on giving to organizations who deal with children—“We mainly keep it to children and young children. If the family feels passionate about it, then we give.”
During the weekend of June 9, the Foundation held its first fundraising dinner and auction.
“This was just another way to keep Nicky’s legacy alive and keep his name going,” Hansler said. “We plan to make this an annual benefit to keep the foundation going.”
People could donate online, buy tables for dinner and participate in a live and silent auction.
“We kept it small for the first one while we’re trying to figure things out,” Hansler said. “We sold out real quick. We have so many generous donors who helped make the event a success.”
While that was a large fundraiser for the Foundation, in May, American Flat Track announced In honor of Nicky’s memory that AFT Events would donate $1 from every ticket sold for the Indian Motorcycle of Lexington Red Mile to benefit The Nicky Hayden Memorial Foundation.
Separate from the memorial fund, the Hayden family recently made significant contributions of their own to two local agencies that also serve children.
The family purchased land across the street from the Daniel Pitino Shelter, which they then donated to the shelter to be used for a 12-unit apartment complex bearing Nicky’s name.
The low-cost apartments will serve women or families with children that need help getting back on their feet.
The Haydens also purchased and donated land to the St. Joseph’s Peace Mission for Children that will be used to build the Hayden Home for Girls.
The Hayden Home for Girls will provide housing for pregnant teenagers and pre-teens. It will also be available to girls who are currently parenting, among a variety of other issues and needs. The home will house up to eight occupants at a time.
Hansler said the plan is for the home to open in August.
“Our goal for the Foundation and other charitable acts are to keep Nicky’s legacy alive,” Hansler said. “Nicky was very generous and we want to keep that same giving spirit going in Owensboro.”