Late inspirational Kentucky teen remembered in Winchester

Published 12:30 pm Friday, November 17, 2023

Last Friday, Nov. 10, one family faced an incredible challenge as 17 year-old Cody Dorman was laid to rest.

Hours later, however, the young man who drew attention worldwide was celebrated in Winchester.

At Robert D. Campbell Junior High School, a fundraiser sponsored by the Clark County Fish and Game Club brought dozens from in and out of Clark County to benefit Dorman — who passed away on Sunday, November 5th – and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

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“I hope we get to a point where we can do this event every year,” said State Sen. Greg Elkins. “It’s a great turnout [and] such a great response. Most certainly, it’s appreciated.”

Dorman – who had a rare genetic disorder known as Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome – was an inspiration largely due to his connection with an American Thoroughbred racehorse named Cody’s Wish.

Having met Cody’s Wish when he was just a weanling, Dorman and the Make-A-Wish Foundation he so often partnered with helped give the horse its name.

Cody’s Wish went on to win numerous races, many of which Dorman was present for.

On Saturday, Nov. 5, in what was known ahead of time would be the last race for Cody’s Wish, the horse won the coveted Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile for the second consecutive time, outpacing competitors that included Belmont Stakes winner National Treasure.

Sadly, just 24 hours later, Dorman – who one qualified medical professional years ago once said wouldn’t be likely to live past the age of two – suffered a medical event and passed away on Nov. 5th.

Pat Finley, pastor of Grace Bible Church, delivered the opening prayer for the evening and offered perspective.

“We’re just so thankful … for how inspirational he is to each of us as we stop and we think about how he was used in his short life,” Finley said. “We’re also thankful … that there’s an incredible young man that finished well and is on the other side of your presence. We look forward to the day when we can meet him. We just pray that as we gather tonight … that you would just use his life to make a difference in other’s lives.”

According to many who spoke, Dorman certainly did.

Faith Hacker, the market director for Make-A-Wish Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, spoke about Dorman.

“Cody was actually the very first wish kid I met when I came to work for Make-A-Wish five years ago, so he holds a very special place in my heart,” she said. “Cody really was thankful. In everything he did, he wanted everybody to know he was thankful. He was always doing something for somebody else.”

Hacker also mentioned him as a powerful example of a Make-A-Wish Kid, noting that over 1,500 stories had been written about Cody.

“They have reached over [one] billion people. That’s just incredible,” she said. “That’s got to make Cody very special. He taught all of us what love and friendship meet, and he taught us to believe in ourselves and to always help others.”

Amber Philpott, a news anchor with WKYT in Lexington, also talked about Cody.

Along with a lighthearted story about how he opened up their first meeting with jokes, and more, she talked of Cody’s ability to connect with others.

“Cody Dorman might not have said the words out loud, but that boy could capture your heart in a second,” she said. “As a little girl from Cynthiana who grew up just wanting to tell stories, there is nothing more meaningful than being able to tell Cody Dorman’s story … and get to tell it a couple of times.”

While Cody will be remembered, his legacy also lives on.

It was announced at the event that a book and movie are planned for the future.

Perhaps most notably, as of last Friday evening, over $45,000 had already been raised for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Further donations can be made at:

To complete the evening, additional fundraising took place.

Silent auction items such as a coffee basket from Creative Coffees Roastery and various artwork were sold.

Referring to a conversation she had one day with Cody’s father, Kelly, Philpott said that he had perhaps the most memorable quote regarding Cody.

“Kelly said to me … ‘we’ve got a front row seat to the best story in the world,’ ” she recalled. “I was just blown away by the worldwide attention that Cody made sure that Make-A-Wish has. It’s the reason we’re here tonight.”