Event remembering inspirational, nationally recognized teen taking place at RDC

Published 4:30 pm Thursday, November 9, 2023

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When 17-year-old Cody Layne Dorman passed away from a rare illness on Sunday, Nov. 5, it was a story picked up by several news outlets across the country. 

Now, a part of that story comes to Winchester. 

As planned before his passing, a dinner – now celebrating Cody’s life – will take place from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 10, at Robert D. Campbell Junior High School. 

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The event will be sponsored by the Clark County Fish and Game Club. 

Born in Lexington in 2005, Dorman was diagnosed with Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome, a genetic disorder affecting several parts of the body. 

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), features of Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome can include skeletal abnormalities, congenital heart defects, hearing loss, structural brain abnormalities, and more. 

At one point, a physician expressed doubts that Dorman would live beyond his second birthday. 

However, defying the odds, Cody was a senior at Madison Central High School in Richmond at the time of his passing. 

Five years ago, Cody – who had a lifelong interest in fishing and was a member of the Madison Central fishing team as well as Future Farmers of America – was at Godolphin’s Gainsborough Farm in Lexington while visiting as a Make-A-Wish Ambassador during part of the yearly Make-A-Wish-Day at Keeneland. 

He was very interested in helping others through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. 

“Cody was so impacted [from his first Make-A-Wish trip] that he was looking for ways to give back for other children to have the same experience that he had,” said Faith Hacker, market director for Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky & Indiana. 

While there, he encountered a 5-month-old weanling. 

Noticing an immediate connection, farm manager Danny Mulvihill immediately named the horse – Cody’s Wish – after both Dorman and the foundation that brought him to the location. 

Two years later, when the COVID-19 pandemic led Dorman to feel depressed, the two met for a second time in an effort to lift his spirits. 

It was a rousing success. 

Through the last three years, Dorman was present at seven of Cody’s Wish’s races, which ended with him being in the win photos on all but one occasion. 

Perhaps most significantly, on Saturday, November 4th, Dorman was next to his American Thoroughbred racehorse friend as Cody’s Wish – in what was known would be his last race – won the coveted Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile for the second consecutive time at Santa Anita Park in California. 

In doing so, Cody’s Wish finished ahead of National Treasure, winner of the most recent Preakness Stakes. 

Dorman sadly suffered a medical event while in flight from Los Angeles and died shortly after landing in Atlanta. 

The news was met with reactions from many in the horse racing industry and beyond, including the recently re-elected Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear. 

“As a Dad, my heart breaks for the Dorman family as they mourn the loss of their remarkably strong and kind son Cody,” he said via social media. “He was an inspiration to many, and I was always left smiling when I saw him. His legacy will live on through the impact he made on many, including me.” 

Cody’s father – Kelly – was quoted in his obituary. 

“He said he was going to go out on top…We can’t get over the timing,” he said. “It’s like Cody was saying, ‘I’ve done everything I can do and it’s time for me to go now.’ I think most people feel that.” 

John Myers, owner of Backwater Outfitters and board member of Clark County Fish and Game Club, had known Cody from childhood. 

He insists that Cody’s life offers plenty for others to learn from. 

“He will go on as a legacy to so many people that adversity can be overcome, [and] you can deal with the adversities in your life,” Myers said. “You’ve just got to…go with what the good Lord gives you. That’s what [he did].” 

While the event is sold out, donations in Cody’s memory can be made to Make-a-Wish of Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky at the following link: https://wish.org/oki