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Gold Star mom sings National Anthem at Ellis Park; July 4th performance honors Daviess County native killed in Afghanistan

Gold Star mom sings National Anthem at Ellis Park; July 4th performance honors Daviess County native killed in Afghanistan

Bill Stephens

July 5th, 2019


‘It puts a name with a face to what freedom really costs’ – Cathy Mullins

HENDERSON, Ky. — As America celebrated her birthday Thursday, Ellis Park’s National Anthem singer served as a poignant reminder that freedom isn’t free.
Cathy Mullins of Owensboro was Ellis Park’s featured Independence Day soloist performing the Star-Spangled Banner at 12:20 p.m. Central in the track’s winner’s circle.
Mullins and her husband, U.S. Army veteran Tommy Mullins, are both Blue Star and Gold Star parents as defined by the Department of Defense. Their oldest son, Staff Sergeant Shaun Mullins, is stationed at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri. Their son in law, Sergeant Steven Randall, is stationed at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
“The Gold Star is for our son Brandon,” Cathy Mullins wrote in background information provided to Ellis Park after she auditioned to be a National Anthem singer. “In August of 2011, our middle son, SPC Brandon Scott Mullins gave the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan when his unit was attacked by an improvised explosive device.

Brandon Mullins, a graduate of Apollo High School, was 21 when he died. The Mullinses established the Brandon Scott Mullins Memorial Foundation in 2016 to honor and remember their son through leadership scholarships at Apollo High School and the Owensboro Hockey League, along with supporting veterans service organizations. The foundation’s signature fundraiser in Owensboro is called “Kentucky Remembers,” featuring a 5K run, Military Ball and a For Faith and Country Concert each year in November around Veterans Day. More information is available at
“Freedom is not free,” Cathy Mullins wrote. “It is an incredible blessing to sing our National Anthem in honor of my son who gave his all for our country and for all those who have raised their right hands to serve this great nation so that we can live in freedom.”

Cathy Mullins first sang the Star-Spangled Banner as a solo in 2015 before a crowd of 15,000 at Chicago’s Operation Support Our Troops annual event. She was one of four women selected to sing the National Anthem before Nashville Predators home games the past two professional hockey seasons and sang the Canadian anthem for a Stanley Cup playoff game in 2018. Mullins has performed the National Anthem at 113 events “give or take one or two,” she says. Mullins also sang before the Owensboro Symphony 2nd St Big Band’s performance in Elizabethtown, Ky Thursday evening.

“… I have enjoyed singing in choirs and in church all my life, but prior to Brandon’s death in 2011, I had never sung the National Anthem as a solo. Somehow, in the time since his death, amazing doors and opportunities have been opened for me to share his story and music with thousands of people.”

This week’s promotions
Thursday’s special Independence Day card begins the only four-day race week of the meet, with first post 12:50 p.m.
July 4 kicks off the three-day All-American Celebration. This Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, one winner after each race (starting with Race 4) will receive a $25 betting voucher and flag-pole kit, with a drawing after the feature race for the All-American Celebration Prize Package consisting of a patio set and gas grill.
Saturday features the annual ostrich and camel races, sponsored by O.Z. Tyler bourbon. Jockeys will try to win on something other than horses in the crowd-favorite event, riding camels after the fifth race (post time approximately 2:42 p.m. CT) and ostriches after the seventh (3:40 post). 
Sunday is the meet’s first Family Day. One 55-inch Samsung 4K Smart TV or an Xbox Gaming Console and 28-inch LG LED TV given each week via drawing after the seventh race. Four others will receive $25 betting vouchers. This Sunday also features a giveaway of Evansville Otters baseball tickets.

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