500 Festival Foundation Announces $5 Million Capital Campaign

500 Festival Foundation Announces $5 Million Capital Campaign

Goal to meet the community’s needs and reach even more people 


For over 25 years, the 500 Festival Foundation has made the 500 Festival’s free education, fitness, and leadership development programs and initiatives possible, impacting the lives of 100,000 Indiana youth and families each year. 


In response to the growing community need for these programs, in 2021, the 500 Festival Foundation launched its most ambitious fundraising effort ever – the Fueling the Community Campaign. The purpose of this campaign is to raise money to cultivate the state’s next generation of leaders, enhance the health of Hoosiers across all age groups, and ensure the Festival meets the community’s evolving needs for years to come. 


Since the campaign launched in 2021, the Foundation has raised $3.4 million. The 500 Festival Foundation will publicly announce the campaign at the 500 Festival Kickoff to May event, Wednesday morning.  


The 500 Festival remains committed to producing events and programs that many Hoosiers and people from around the world have come to know and love over the years, like the AES 500 Festival Parade, the OneAmerica 500 Festival Mini Marathon, and the 500 Festival Princess Program, presented by The National Bank of Indianapolis. The campaign allows the Foundation to leverage the unique position they are in to grow to meet the community’s needs and reach even more people.  


And they need the community’s help.  


Honorary campaign co-chairs Mark Miles and Cindy Simon Skjodt share why the Fueling the Community Campaign is important for our community:  


“The 500 Festival plays an important role in making Indianapolis a vibrant place to live, especially in May. We believe in their efforts to generate excitement, connection, and celebration for the Indianapolis 500 while also promoting Indianapolis, the state of Indiana, and, of course, the race to all in our community and beyond,” says Mark Miles.  


“We are honored to help lead this important philanthropic effort to support the 500 Festival well into the future. This campaign will allow the 500 Festival to enhance and grow their events and programs, while reaching even more individuals and families through our community,” said Cindy Simon Skjodt. 


Philanthropic support of the 500 Festival Foundation ensures all Hoosiers, regardless of age, ability, location, or income level, can be reached. Individual, foundation, and corporate donors provide support to the Foundation, which is vital to offering free community, youth, and health events and programs.  


Support of the Foundation makes education programs teaching history, engineering, and racing in classrooms throughout the state by sharing Indiana’s legacy of innovation possible. Additionally, in response to the alarming number of Hoosier children struggling with obesity, Foundation support brings free racing-themed health and fitness programs in Indiana schools and communities. These programs encourage healthier lifestyles for more than 35,000 students and their families each year. 


Sarah Fisher O’Gara, current 500 Festival Board Chair, said, “After being introduced to the 500 Festival through my experience as a driver in the Parade, to learning all that the Festival and Foundation does to extend the value of the Indy 500 to everyone in our community, I’m honored to be a part of something that makes a difference. The Fueling the Community Campaign will strengthen this incredible legacy well into the future.” 


 “Thanks to the generous support of our lead campaign donors and the leadership of the 500 Festival Foundation board of directors and campaign volunteers, we’re thrilled to be well positioned to announce the Foundation’s campaign publicly. We appreciate the community’s support of this historic moment for both the 500 Festival and 500 Festival Foundation,” Scott Thiems, 500 Festival Foundation Board Chair. 


Lead campaign donors* include: 

  • AAA Hoosier Motor Club 
  • John and Kathy Ackerman 
  • Ted and Kim Dickman 
  • FORVIS (Formerly BKD LLP) 
  • Hulman and Company Foundation
  • Indianapolis Colts 
  • Michael F. and Jody J. Petrie 
  • James and Pamela Poore 
  • Robert and Julie Pruitt 
  • Marlyne Sexton 
  • Cindy Simon Skjodt 
  • The Herbert Simon Family Foundation 
  • Maribeth and Al Smith 
  • Walker Corporate Foundation 
  • Al Wurster Family 


*To see a full list of campaign donors, please visit 500festivalfoundation.com/campaigndonors. This list will be published on Wednesday, May 3. 


Created in 1996 to ensure relevance, reach and sustainability of the 500 Festival’s mission to enrich lives, foster positive community impact and celebrate the Indianapolis 500, the 500 Festival Foundation serves communities across Indiana by supporting Indy 500-themed education, fitness, and leadership development events and programs serving more than 100,000 Hoosier youth each year.  


The public phase of the capital campaign will run from May 2023 to December 2023.  


To learn more about the capital campaign, visit 500FestivalFoundation.com/campaign. 


For more information, contact 500 Festival Foundation Executive Director, Christine Swarm at cswarm@500festival.com.