Tag Archives: charity

Equestrian Aid Foundation’s Spectacular “ALTHEA” a Sold-Out Smash Hit

Former Cavalia performer S. Caleb Carinci Asch. DDeRosa photo.

Wellington, Fla. Feb. 20, 2017 – Greater Palm Beach County enthusiasts and equestrians gathered Sunday, Feb. 12, at the Global Dressage Festival Stadium for the Equestrian Aid Foundation’s annual gala. General admission tickets and VIP tables for “Althea,” featuring former Cavalia artists, were completely sold out. The evening raised funds to support Equestrian Aid Foundation programs that provide financial assistance to those in the equestrian community suffering from catastrophic illness and injury.

“For this year’s benefit, we decided to take a unique approach. We provided a magical and magnificent experience presented by both humans and horses,” said Equestrian Aid Foundation President Stephanie Riggio Bulger. “This organization is incredibly grateful to Keith Greco for this compelling performance. The success will provide Equestrian Aid with the opportunity to help many horsemen and horsewomen in need.”

Produced by Greco, an award-winning California production designer, “Althea” was a tribute to the relationship between horses and humans. The equestrian ballet told the story of Argos, a horseman who is crippled and in despair and finds himself in a land where a magical stallion, Althea, has the power to heal.

Former Cavalia headliners Sylvia Zerbini, S. Caleb Carinci-Asch, Kansas Carradine, other equestrian artists and their horses engaged the audience with their spectacular performance, created exclusively for the one-time event. The evening included a live and silent auction, with unique items such as a vintage Mercedes, a month of training with Rio Olympic Dressage team member, Steffen Peters, and a sunset yacht cruise.

“I was excited to produce this event for a wonderful organization such as Equestrian Aid Foundation,” Greco said. “There are so many in need of assistance from all corners of the horse world who are coping with life-changing injury or illness and financial crisis. Without Equestrian Aid they would be lost. I look forward to seeing how the success of this evening will help those in need.”

The Equestrian Aid Foundation® is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that assists people from all corners of the horse world who are coping with life-changing injury or illness and financial crisis. Since its inception 20 years ago, the Foundation has granted $2.7 million in direct financial aid to equestrians facing adversity. Our needs-based support provides assistance with basic living and rehabilitative expenses to riders, trainers, farriers, grooms, horse farm owners and other equestrians who need a helping hand to get back on their feet. For more information, please visit EquestrianAidFoundation.org.

Media Contact:
Jessica Greene
Sirota Public Relations
(917) 783-2334
jessica@sirotapr.com

Urban Youth Impact Wins Great Charity Challenge at WEF

Shane Sweetnam. Photos © Sportfot.

Farrington Tops Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic; Staszak Takes Beval Palm Beach Adult Medal

Wellington, FL – February 4, 2017 – The team of riders Shane Sweetnam, Lindsey Tomeu, and Sedona Chamblee, team sponsors Spy Coast & Preston, and corporate sponsor Equine Tack & Nutritionals earned the top prize of $150,000 for their charity, Urban Youth Impact, on Saturday night in the 8th annual Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments®, at the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).

Also competing at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL on Saturday, Olympic silver medalist Kent Farrington won the $35,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic riding Sherkan d’Amaury.

The 2017 GCC donated a record $1.5 million to 35 local Palm Beach County charities, bringing the eight-year total up to $10.7 million distributed through the event to date. The winning charity received the top prize of $150,000, with a sliding scale for the balance of the proceeds down to 35th place, which wins $15,000.

The competition is held as a pro-am team relay with each team made up of junior and amateur riders competing side by side with top professionals. The event also featured a fun theme, as riders (and their horses) dressed up as characters from their favorite animated movies.

Representing Urban Youth Impact, Sweetnam, Tomeu, and Chamblee rode for team sponsor Spy Coast & Preston, and corporate sponsor Equine Tack and Nutritionals dressed as characters from The Flintstones. All three riders cleared the course without fault and clocked the fastest combined time of 85.27 seconds for the win. Sweetnam and Tomeu were also part of the winning team in 2016, while Chamblee was competing in the event for the first time.

“It is a fantastic cause, not just for our team, but for a lot of different foundations in the area,” said Sweetnam, who anchored the team as professional rider. “I do not know if there is anything else like it in the country or anywhere really. Every year we try to do our best for whatever cause we are given. Obviously the girls did a great job, and I just finished it off. They were really motoring, so it was great.”

Tomeu (23), who has been competing in the event for the past four years, stated, “Every year we really try hard to win. We put together a good team, and last year we had a great team. We really wanted to step it up and do it again, and we did, which is amazing. We were even faster this year than we were last year, which I did not think was possible. Sedona was fantastic with her switch-off. It was really amazing.”

Chamblee (15) added, “This was my first year doing the Great Charity Challenge, and it was really fun. It was a great experience, and you get to ride for an amazing charity, which is really cool. Like Lindsey said, it was just amazing.”

Representing team sponsor Spy Coast Farm, Lisa Lourie commented on her team’s win for the second year in a row.

“I think it is a great way to involve the community here with our sport, as well as for us to give back to the community,” Lourie stated. “It is a win-win for both the community and for us. When we get to be involved with either educational or urban youth organizations, we are especially happy. We are very happy to be involved with Urban Youth Impact.”

Team sponsor Monica Preston added, “I am so proud to be a part of this group, and it is really wonderful that a small charity can benefit so greatly. I am so proud of the riders, and thank you to Lisa for getting me involved in this event.”

Charity winner Urban Youth Impact’s mission is to love, equip, and empower inner-city youth and their parents to fulfill their God-given purpose. Representing the organization, volunteer Sarah Armada detailed, “It is an organization that provides a safe place for kids to go after school. They get reading support; they get the arts. There is African drumming and ballet. There are things that these children would not be otherwise exposed to. They do so much for the community, and I think this is a great way to get their name out there and just provide them with all of the resources that those kids so desperately need. This is going to make a huge difference.”

Armada continued, “It is all about building their capacity and letting the kids feel empowered and equipped so that they can go out and be successful in their community.”

Adopt a Family was the second wildcard draw of the night, and ended up in second place overall, with riders Sydney Shulman, Lilli Hymowitz, and Hannah Patten representing the charity. Team sponsor the Patten family and corporate sponsor H5 Stables supported the riders, dressed as characters from Lilo & Stitch, with a combined time of 94.02 seconds.

Representing the charity Hepzibah House, Canadian Olympian Tiffany Foster, and amateur riders Alexandra Crown and Alexandra Welles, placed third. Dressed as My Little Ponies and riding for team sponsor the Crown family and corporate sponsor Stone Hill Farm, all three ladies jumped their courses without fault and clocked a combined time of 97.47 seconds.

GCC co-founder Paige Bellissimo was thrilled with the success of the eighth annual event and praised everyone involved on a fantastic evening of sport and charitable giving.

“It is really special year after year to have so many great riders participating in the event,” Bellissimo stated. “It is amazing that people donate their time to give back. The executive directors of all of the charity organizations are the lifeblood of these communities, and it is just really amazing that we can all come together to support the community and see it grow. I want to thank the riders and the sponsors. Thank you Lisa and Monica for supporting year after year. It is so cool to see the charities and everyone’s unique way of helping. Urban Youth Impact is empowering our youth, and the youth are our future, so thanks go to them for everything they do.”

Farrington Tops Suncast® 1.50m

2016 U.S. Olympic team silver medalist Kent Farrington was the winner of week four’s $35,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic on Saturday at the Winter Equestrian Festival riding Sherkan d’Amaury. Jumping a track set by course designer Steve Stephens (USA), Farrington topped a class of 29 entries and an eight-horse jump-off.

Kent Farrington and Sherkan d’Amaury

Sherkan d’Amaury, an 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding (Kannan x Quick Star) owned by Farrington, Haity McNerney, and Daniel Crown, carried his rider to victory in a time of 39.54 seconds over the short course. Shane Sweetnam (IRL) took second and third place honors, riding the Blue Buckle Group’s Cobolt through the timers in 39.92 seconds, and stopping the clock in 40.56 seconds aboard Sweet Oak Farm and Seabrook LLC’s Main Road. Canada’s Beth Underhill finished fourth, riding Sandy Lupton’s Count Me In to a clear round over the jump-off track in 40.59 seconds.

Remarking on his winning round with Sherkan d’Amaury, Farrington stated, “For him, I just did what I thought his strengths were. I think what won the class today was the leave-out to the last fence. He has a very big stride and big scope, and he is so careful that he is actually better if I am catching every jump accelerating, or out of rhythm. I think that is where we got it today.

“I think a lot of this horse,” Farrington continued. “I had him last year, and then he had a terrible colic surgery, and he just started showing this winter two weeks ago. The first class in the week he was third, and then yesterday he was second, and today he won, so he is really on the mend and I’m happy to have him back.”

Sherkan d’Amaury has a fast pace and a unique way of going that suits Farrington’s strengths as a rider.

“He is my style. He is super careful, which I try to find in all of the horses I buy,” Farrington stated. “I try to get extreme quality, and sometimes that works against me, but in the end I think that is the way you get the best horses. They tend to be a little bit the weirdos. They are spooky and not always the easiest to ride, but that often goes hand-in-hand with an extreme horse that has that kind of blood and that kind of carefulness. It is a double-edged sword, but that is what I like to ride.”

Sherkan d’Amaury is just getting back in top form and Farrington will continue developing him throughout the winter circuit.

“I think he can jump anything,” the rider noted. “It is just a matter of building him the right way, and seeing where his confidence is, and what his body is ready for. He came off of a long gap there not doing anything all last year, so we’ll see where he goes. It is a long winter and we have lots of time to build him up, so I am looking forward to it.”

Also competing in the International Arena on Saturday, Sarah Bagworth and Goldfinder vd Hengstenpoel won the $15,000 SJHOF High Amateur-Owner Classic, presented by Engel & Völkers.

Staszak Captures Beval Palm Beach Adult Medal Victory

The Beval Palm Beach Adult Medal concluded Saturday morning with Catie Staszak of Boynton Beach, FL emerging as the winner. Staszak shows in the Adult Amateur Medals while also focusing on her career as a multimedia sports journalist. All 11 competitors participated in a jumping and a flat phase.

“Flatwork has typically been my weakness,” Staszak detailed. “The jumping phase felt phenomenal. Everything worked out well and was smooth, which is key. It wasn’t the most technical course, so it was really about position and keeping on a nice rhythm.”

Staszak was aboard Agnes Augusta, a 12-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare owned by East Wind Farm, LLC. The pair has been partnered together for about four years.

“We just click,” Staszak explained. “She’s really sensitive, and I’m a very soft rider so we get along well. She’s come so far, especially in the past year. I couldn’t be prouder of her. She’s really special, and I love her to death.”

Staszak rode in the equitation classes as a junior, but took a break from showing to get her degree in broadcast journalism at the University of Miami. She does grand prix commentary for live streaming events, which combines for a career of two of her passions – horses and journalism.

Rounding out the top three competitors were Sara Ballinger taking second place and Elissa Davis being awarded third place.

The fourth week of WEF concludes on Sunday with the $216,000 Ariat® Grand Prix CSI 4* on the grass derby field at Equestrian Village. The Bruno DelGrange Large Junior Hunter 16-17 division will award championship and reserve honors in the Rost Arena. For full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

School Art Initiative to Honor Great Charity Challenge Participants at PBIEC

Animation Ringside Chalk Art Festival Pairs Young Talent and Philanthropy

Wellington, FL – January 19, 2017 – At the heart of the Winter Equestrian Capital of the World, the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL has welcomed art departments from local elementary, middle, and high schools for the last four years, showcasing their talents to thousands of spectators during the twelve-week season. With the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival fast approaching, this year’s art initiative has been announced. An Animation Ringside Chalk Art Festival, honoring young talent and Palm Beach County philanthropy, will take place during the 2017 Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments® (GCC), on Saturday, February 4.

From horse statue decorations to mini-jump creations, the 12 public schools in Wellington have showcased their diversity and imagination via annual projects at PBIEC over the years. The proposed initiative is available for students in first through 12th grades.

The Ringside Chalk Art Festival will celebrate, inspire, and encourage the creative expressions of the students and their teachers while empowering the participants of the 2017 GCC.

The 2017 GCC will distribute more than $1.5 million to local charities. This year’s event is sure to inspire adults and children alike, as riders will dress as their favorite animated characters and bring beloved movie characters to life at PBIEC.

Each Wellington school will be provided with a 4-foot by 6-foot giant chalkboard and have two hours to bring their animated creation to life. A panel of judges will present the awards as well as cash prizes.  Each school is guaranteed a minimum of a $1,000 donation for participating. The public will be invited to cast their vote as well.

“On behalf of Equestrian Sport Productions and Wellington Equestrian Partners, we look forward to welcoming the 2017 participants of the GCC as well as the Art Departments of the Wellington public schools. Highlighting the talent and imagination of the students joining us will remind us all that you do not have to be a child to dream of miracles. The evening will honor those that imagine and dream of a better community, while the event sponsors and riders will make it a reality,” stated Paige Bellissimo.

The GCC, founded in 2010 by Mark and Katherine Bellissimo of Equestrian Sport Productions and their daughter Paige, has distributed more than $9.2 million from the equestrian community to more than 200 non-profits in Palm Beach County over the last seven years. The Wellington PTA/PTO is the only group to receive an automatic admission into the event every year and has received well over $350,000 to date.

The GCC competition at the Winter Equestrian Festival will offer free General Admission and will be held Saturday evening, February 4, 2017, at 6:00 PM. Free parking will be located at 13500 South Shore Blvd., Wellington, FL 33414.

For the latest event information, please visit www.greatcharitychallenge.com and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greatcharitychallenge.

Polo for a Purpose Promotes Awareness, Supports Fight against Leukemia and Lymphoma

Brandon Phillips.

Wellington, FL – January 8, 2017 – The International Polo Club Palm Beach will welcome the first charity event of the year on Monday, January 16, hosting Polo with a Purpose, benefitting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society®, while showcasing a high goal polo game in conjunction with a Gipsy Sound Revolution concert following the match. The event will begin at 2:00 p.m. with a 24-goal polo match and continue throughout the afternoon with entertainment and family fun.

P.J. Rizvi and Brandon Phillips, co-organizers of the event, alongside Visse Wedell and Penny Bradley, spend their year preparing and planning for the event, which aims to raise funds and awareness for those diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, and myeloma, all different forms of blood cancers.

“We started preparing for this event just a month after last year’s event, so it is something that we work on throughout the year,” said Phillips, a survivor of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and a renowned polo player. “I’m excepting this year, by far, to be our biggest year yet.”

“The money we raise from this event benefits the local community and patients fighting these diseases. This is why Brandon and I do this event together and have become such good friends,” explained Rizvi. “My sister, Penny, passed away from leukemia and Brandon is a survivor. We hold this event very close to our hearts.”

Through the fundraising efforts of the Polo for a Purpose committee, more than $600,000 has been donated to the mission of finding a cure and supporting emerging treatments. This year, both Rizvi and Phillips are anticipating that number will greatly increase with the tremendous growth of the event.

“We want to create awareness and include everyone. This event is for the community,” continued Rizvi. “I always say that the motto for this event is that we’re chipping away at blood cancer one penny at a time.”

The event, which is not only open to the equestrian community, but also to the citizens of Wellington, will feature an elite polo match ahead of an exciting concert, all hosted on the polo grounds. Rizvi elaborated, “By supporting this event, you’re saving lives. People sometimes underestimate how important this research is. The money we raise goes to covering co-pays, transportation, second opinions, new research and so much more.”

As the event date approaches, event organizers are expecting a large turnout of supporters, spectators, and survivors on Monday, as it is a day of rest for the equestrian community and part of the holiday weekend. This is the first year that a concert has been incorporated into the event timeline and both Rizvi and Phillips believe that it will help to grow the event and add an extra element of fun to an already meaningful day.

“What we’ve been able to do in the last four years has just been incredible. I wish we could have started this fourteen years ago. You know that you want to give back and this event provides an outlet to do that,” added Phillips. “This year is going to be special. The proceeds will 100% go back to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society®. It’s going to be a great game and it’s my goal to make these events fun. We want people to enjoy their time while supporting the cause.”

“When someone you love is diagnosed with blood cancer, your entire family is diagnosed,” concluded Rizvi. “We want to help the families in this community and support opportunities for research and treatment that will one day cure this disease.”

To purchase tickets for the event, please visit www.poloforapurpose.com or click here. To learn more about the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society®, please visit www.lls.org.

For more information about the International Polo Club, please visit www.internationalpoloclub.com.

Old Friends Holiday Charity Challenge

2002 Kentucky Derby Winner War Emblem. © Laura Battles.

The Crowd Rise Holiday Challenge *Final Week*

Great news: We have reached 77 percent of our goal on the Crowd Rise Holiday Charity Challenge. Our deepest thanks to all who have supported the cause.

You can still donate to our hay drive — the Challenge Tower stays live until January 5th. Help us reach our final goal by visiting this link.

We have 165 retirees — including three Kentucky Derby winners! That’s a lot of mouths to feed, and winter is our hardest time. It might be lovely weather for a sleigh ride together but it’s tough on horses braving the elements. They need a constant food source to stay warm, and your tax-deductible donation can keep our retired athletes carbo loading until April showers bring May flowers.

Old Friends, Inc. 1841 Paynes Depot Rd., Georgetown, KY 40324
502-863-1775 www.oldfriendsequine.org   michael@oldfriendsequine.org

Happy Holidays from Old Friends

Charismatic © Laura Battles.

From Michael Blowen:

Sincere thanks to everyone who has ever stepped foot on the farm, sent us a kind letter or donated a dollar to Old Friends. Thanks to everyone who works here and our irreplaceable tour guides. But mostly, thanks to our great retirees. From Charismatic to I’m Charismatic and Afternoon Deelites to Popcorn Deelites, we are so grateful to wake up every morning and see these great retirees enjoying themselves. As we enter our 14th year, we’ve been able to secure more acreage to provide a quality retirement to more of our deserving athletes. Selfishly, on the cusp of my 70th birthday, I’m extremely happy and gratified that you’ve allowed me to have the most fulfilling retirement in the world. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and to all a good night.

GoodGiving Challenge

The GoodGiving Guide Challenge is an online giving campaign designed to engage the entire community and to make charitable giving easy and fun. Now in its sixth year, the Challenge is a partnership between Blue Grass Community Foundation and Smiley Pete Publishing. The 2015 GoodGiving Guide Challenge raised over $1.3 million for outstanding nonprofits in Central and Eastern Kentucky. Please consider a donation to Old Friends via this amazing annual campaign. Many many thanks as always to our supporters!  CLICK HERE TO DONATE.

The Old Friends Twelve Days of Christmas Wish List

On the 12th day of Christmas my true fans gave to me
12 post-it pads
11 rolls of Vet-Wrap
10 reams of paper
Nine bubble mailers
Eight horse-size fly masks
Seven Quest Plus DeWormers
Six rolls of shipping tape
Five baaaaales of hay
Four books of stamps
Three gift cards
Two toner cartridges
And a horse blanket under the tree

Click here for the entire list with easy shopping info.

Happy Holidays Everyone, and thanks for your continued support.

Old Friends, Inc. 1841 Paynes Depot Rd., Georgetown, KY 40324
502-863-1775 www.oldfriendsequine.org   michael@oldfriendsequine.org

Old Friends at Cabin Creek   483 Sandhill Rd., Greenfield Center, NY 12833
518-698-2377   www.oldfriendsatcabincreek.com   cabincreek4@hotmail.com

Giving Tuesday. Can We Count on You?

Giving Tuesday, November 29, 2016, is a day designated to honor and support nonprofits on following Black Friday and Cyber Monday. America’s Wild Horse Families count on the Cloud Foundation, a recognized leader in the fight to protect and preserve them on our western public lands.  Can we count on you?

The Cloud Foundation
info@thecloudfoundation.org

Fall Festivities Bring Record Attendance and Donations for Kids Cancer Foundation

Wellington, Florida (November 3, 2016) – This fall season the Wellington and Palm Beach communities have continued a legacy of excellence in bringing resources and funding to the Kids Cancer Foundation of South Florida. Dedicated to providing hope and support to patients and families battling childhood cancer, the Kids Cancer Foundation received record donations and attendance at three charity events: the Wellington 10 Miler, 5k and Fun Run, Wicked at The Wanderer’s Club, and the KCF Fall Festival at St. Peter’s Methodist Church.

From its beginnings over a decade ago, the Wellington 10 Miler has grown to encompass not only a great fitness, family, and charity event, but also a source of remembrance, resources, and ultimately hope for those affected or enduring the plight of childhood cancer. Organized by the Wellington Runner’s Club, this year’s event took place on Sunday, October 23, 2016 and included the 10 Miler, Sebastian’s 5k, and Kids Fun Run. Its course wove through the scenic tropical landscape of the Wellington Environmental Preserve at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Everglades Habitat off Flying Cow Road, and at its completion set numerous milestones, including record attendance and a record donation for the Kids Cancer Foundation.

Sebastian’s 5k is named in memory of Sebastian Sarmiento, a 9-year-old who bravely battled cancer and endured more in his brief life than any one person should. His unwavering hope and courage in the face of incredible hardship is a reflection of the daily battle waged by the children of the Kids Cancer Foundation, and the funds raised by Sebastian’s 5k and the entire event go directly to help other families in the south Florida community who are facing the same battle and make their fight a bit easier.

With the 10 miler designed as a fall tune up race for those training for full and half marathons and the Sebastian’s 5k Run/Walk appealing to the more casual running enthusiast, the event brought in a family element with the Kids Fun Run, which took place after the 10 Miler. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office also designated Sebastian’s 5k as their Couch to 5k event, a program designed to boost fitness and overall health. The PBSO’s involvement brought droves of runners to Wellington for the event, contributing to its overall success. And, representing Wellington’s own choice sport, a few famous equestrian names could be found on the roster, including Argentina’s Nic Roldan. Roldan, who is an internationally successful polo star and Ambassador for the Kids Cancer Foundation, ran in Sebastian’s 5k.

“Last weekend’s race was a blast like always,” said Roldan. “It’s an event my friends and I always look forward to participating in. The weather was perfect and the turnout was huge. Biggest yet. The KCF family has become part of my life, and it is such a blessing and honor to be able to help support and raise funds for children in need.”

For those looking for a little less fitness, more entertainment, and equitable charity, the Young Professionals of Wellington hosted its fourth annual Wicked at the Wanderer’s Club Halloween gala which also gave revelers the chance to make a difference in the lives of those affected by childhood cancer. Hosted at the spectacular Wanderer’s Club on October 29, 2016, over 250 attendees appeared decked out in spectacular costumes to dance the night away, including the Kids Cancer Busters, a take on the famous Ghostbusters. The generosity of this Halloween themed night no doubt will mean more support and resources for the patients and families of the Kids Cancer Foundation.

The previous Friday, October 28, the KCF’s busy schedule also took them to St. Peter’s Methodist Church, where they hosted a fun night of dancing, costumes, and candy for the kids and families. Star Wars, princesses, and superheroes were the costumes of choice, and the party enjoyed a DJ to keep everyone dancing, a bounce house, arts and crafts, a few golden retrievers (from?), food and of course plenty of candy to add to the spirit of Halloween. Nic Roldan and Darren Marotta also stopped by to have some fun, and during the celebration the Chasentailz Fishing Tournament presented the Kids Cancer Foundation with a $10,000 check from their event, which took place in September, making October a record year for the Foundation and its beneficiaries.

The Kids Cancer Foundation of South Florida is a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity that provides hope and support to local children and families battling childhood cancer. Their multifaceted program addresses patient family needs that range from financial assistance to psychological support and art programs, designed to ease the mental, financial, and emotional strain of battling childhood cancer for the entire family. Some of their support services and programs include:

▪ Over $400,000 in financial assistance
▪ Donations of over $200,000 in toys and gifts
▪ Treasure Boxes filled year round at hospitals and doctors’ offices
▪ Pediatric Oncology Patient Care Navigator Program to provide education and support to patients and families
▪ Arts and Health Program designed for patients and siblings, including therapeutic arts and crafts, play interactions, visual imagery and distraction techniques
▪ Gift Card Program which enables families to purchase basic necessities like food, clothing and gas to come to and from treatment
▪ Tutoring and Homework Club for patients and siblings, as well as an Educational Advocacy program to assist patients with school re-entry
▪ Family Socials
▪ Portable Play Carts
▪ Legacy Bead Program, where patients collect colorful beads that represent their journey through treatment

To date the Kids Cancer Foundation has helped over 500 patients and families and celebrated numerous End of Treatment Parties.

KCF Ambassadors

The KCF Ambassadors represent equestrian proponents of the Foundation that are a shining example of the results of treatment and KCF type therapies as well as community icons and role models who seek to raise awareness and funds for the KCF.

Polo: Nic Roldan

Fueled by intensity, passion and raw talent, Nic Roldan has become one of the top professional polo players in the world today and holds many of the highest accolades prized by the adrenaline-charged sport.

Born in Buenos Aires and raised in the U.S. and Brunei, the fourth generation polo player remembers swinging a polo mallet by age four. Nic captured his first major win – the coveted U.S. Open Polo Championship in 1998 with team Escue shortly after reaching professional status at age 14. Nic has charged polo fields on five continents and continues to add to his roster of wins. Polo’s hottest rising star, for whom Wellington is his home town, has now added to his resume Ambassador to the Kids Cancer Foundation, a local charity whose mission is to provide hope and support to children and families battling childhood cancer and/or blood disorders in our community a cause he is passionate about.

Dressage: Amy Speck-Kern

For Amy Speck-Kern, dressage is a passion that gave her the inspiration to overcome childhood cancer. This passion, combined with cutting edge treatment protocols and the support of her family, friends, and outreach groups, allowed her to defeat Acute Myleoid Leukemia (AML) and pursue her dream of a successful FEI dressage career.

“I know that I’m here because of the research,” said Speck-Kern. “The disease and course of treatment inspired me to pursue my passion, and find a way to give back to the cause that has made it possible.” Her passion can be found in the saddle, astride thousand-pound dressage horses she teaches to move and dance in tandem with their riders. Now a professional FEI dressage trainer in Loxahatchee, Florida, she rides, trains, shows, and competes on Wellington’s prestigious international show circuit. After learning from and working with some of the best trainers in the industry, Amy founded Excel Dressage and, leading into the 2016 show season, has begun the process of giving back to childhood cancer research.

For more information on the programs and support offered by the Kids Cancer Foundation, contact them at michelle@kidscancersf.org or (561) 371-1298.

Media contact:

Holly Johnson
Equinium Sports Marketing, LLC
holly@equinium.com
www.equinium.com
954 205 7992

Amy Speck-Kern Places Top in Nation at Young Horse Championships

Amy Speck-Kern and Gerona at the 2016 Markel/USEF Young Horse Championships (Photo courtesy of SusanJStickle.com)

Wellington, Florida (October 15, 2016) – For Amy Speck-Kern, dressage is a passion that gave her the inspiration to overcome childhood cancer. This passion, combined with cutting edge treatment protocols and the support of her family, friends, and outreach groups, allowed her to defeat Acute Myleoid Leukemia (AML) and pursue her dream of a successful FEI dressage career. Speck-Kern hit a milestone this summer, after qualifying the newly imported KWPN mare Gerona for the 2016 Markel/USEF Young Horse Championships. The pair finished as one of the top 15 ranked 5-year-old combinations in the nation, and through the generous contributions of her family, friends, and colleagues, was able to pay the success forward in the form of a donation to the Kids Cancer Foundation of South Florida. The 501(c)(3) non-profit charity provides hope and support to local children and families battling childhood cancer, and is a reflection of the support and guidance that was so imperative to Speck-Kern’s conquering the disease.

Following her national championship debut, Speck-Kern attended the Kids Cancer Foundation’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Celebration at Lands End Farm in Wellington, Florida. In addition to ponies and face painting, the day of equine fun also centered around raising support and awareness for the children that battle the disease. “It’s important to remember that treatment is just one piece of the puzzle,” said Speck-Kern, “and normally the only one covered by health insurance. Education, support, and resources like psychologists and the camaraderie of other children who are experiencing the same reality are priceless. I love that we can work the horses into the support programs because I know that was a huge drive for me, and to see the kids interacting with them makes it obvious how much of an impact it has.”

Wellington’s equestrian community has a long history of supporting children’s cancer research and the Kids Cancer Foundation. This past winter, the KCF’s team at the Great Charity Challenge placed 3rd overall, earning a donation of $112,500. In September, the Southeast Medal Finals auctioned off a Kids Cancer Foundation custom Wood Craft Solutions jump with all of the proceeds to benefit the KCF. And it’s not just showjumping and dressage: international polo star Nic Roldan is also one of the Kids Cancer Foundation’s Ambassadors, channeling his success on the polo fields into awareness and support for this local charity.

Mini humans and equines at the Childhood Cancer Awareness Celebration at Lands End Farm (Photo courtesy of Moonstruck Photography)
Mini humans and equines at the Childhood Cancer Awareness Celebration at Lands End Farm (Photo courtesy of Moonstruck Photography)

“The equestrian community has always been exceptionally generous and supportive of our organization, and have made a huge difference in the lives of these children and their families,” said Michelle O’Boyle, RN, CPON, founder and executive director of the Kids Cancer Foundation, Inc. “Having survivors and high profile riders like Amy and Nick involved gives the kids hope for their own futures, as they see that there is life after leukemia or childhood cancer and that its worth fighting for.”

To learn more about the Kids Cancer Foundation, visit their website at www.KidsCancersf.org. Help us help them fight!

Amy’s Story: Riding for Childhood Cancer Research

In 2003 and at the age of 18, only barely still considered a child by medical standards, Amy Speck-Kern was diagnosed with Acute Myleoid Leukemia. Known by the acronym AML, this childhood cancer attacks multiple blood cell types, including red blood cells, platelet-forming cells, and white blood cells other than lymphocytes (when leukemia attacks lymphocytes, it is known as acute lymphoblasic leukemia, or ALL). AML represents only 20% of leukemia diagnoses, so Amy and her doctors realized it would be a challenge to successfully defeat the disease.

“They told us they couldn’t guarantee her next month, next week, or even tomorrow,” says Liz Mikutowski, Amy’s mother. With high school graduation quickly approaching, Amy went onto the course of treatment, a newly devised protocol from the Children’s Oncology Group, for which she was one of the first patients. Previous treatments had a 60% survivor rate for AML, and around the time of Amy’s diagnosis, the survival rate experienced a surge up to 90% thanks to advanced research and development into cures for childhood cancer. The new protocol for Amy featured these advancements, and coupled with diet, exercise and the support of family and childhood cancer organizations, she completed the treatment at an accelerated rate. After only 6 months, Amy was cleared of AML, thanks to the tireless work of children’s oncologists, doctors, nurses, and the generous funding, grants, and donations that made the research possible.

“I know that I’m here because of the research,” said Speck-Kern. “The disease and course of treatment inspired me to pursue my passion, and find a way to give back to the cause that has made it possible.” Her passion can be found in the saddle, astride thousand-pound dressage horses she teaches to move and dance in tandem with their riders. Now a professional FEI dressage trainer in Loxahatchee, Florida, she rides, trains, shows, and competes on Wellington’s prestigious international show circuit. After learning from and working with some of the best trainers in the industry, Amy founded Excel Dressage and, leading into the 2016 show season, has begun the process of giving back to childhood cancer research.

For more information on Amy or Excel Dressage, visit www.ExcelDressage.com.

Media Contact:
Holly Johnson
Equinium Sports Marketing, LLC
holly@equinium.com
954 205 7992

Imagination Leads the Way for Palm Beach County Charities at 2017 Great Charity Challenge

Costumes, like Olaf from the movie “Frozen”, were a big hit at the 2016 GCC. Photos by Meg Banks.

Wellington, FL – October 12, 2016 – What if you didn’t have to remain a child to dream of miracles? Imagination will be getting a chance to shine for Palm Beach non-profit organizations this coming February.

For the past seven years, equestrians and their loyal mounts have been captivating the local community at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL. These teams of riders have one goal in mind: to paint a brighter future for Palm Beach County charities in their chance to win up to $150,000.

The Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments®, is inviting all Palm Beach County-based charities to apply to participate in the event’s eighth edition, a pro-amateur relay show jumping competition.

Thirty-four of these randomly drawn charities will not have to wake up from their dreams on Saturday, February 4, 2017, to receive a share of the $1.5 million dollar purse.

The application process will open on October 15, 2016, and will remain active through 5:00 PM on November 15, 2016, via www.greatcharitychallenge.com. All non-profit organizations in Palm Beach County are invited to apply and try their good fortune!

Olympic silver medalist Kent Farrington
Olympic silver medalist Kent Farrington

The GCC, founded in 2010 by Mark and Katherine Bellissimo of Equestrian Sport Productions and their daughter Paige, has distributed more than $9.2 million from the equestrian community to over 200 non-profits in Palm Beach County over the last seven years.  What makes this event truly unique is the fact that 100% of the money raised gets distributed to local non-profits. With 34 participants randomly selected each year, first place is guaranteed $150,000 with a sliding scale to the minimum amount of $15,000 for every participating charity.

In 2015 and 2016, the GCC made the event even more fun for those participating and watching by incorporating themes. Riders dressed up in costume and decked out their horses to the theme of “Superheroes” and “Fairy Tales.” The GCC is proud to reveal this year’s theme is “Animated Movies.”

Mark Bellissimo commented, “This eighth year is a milestone for the GCC; as of February 4, 2017, we will have officially surpassed the $10 million donation mark. Our theme of ‘Animated Movies’ is a perfect fit to acknowledge those who imagine a better community. This event is truly the legacy of the Winter Equestrian Festival and the sponsors involved. We can’t thank them enough for their support.”

Paige Bellissimo added, “The GCC is a unique event that allows us to raise awareness of the diverse charitable organizations throughout the community. One hundred percent of the funds are distributed to local charities. The event is a dream come true to the heroes that lead these deserving non-profits. We are very grateful for our rider teams, sponsors, and partners who support the effort.”

If you know of a deserving Palm Beach County-based charity, please have them visit www.greatcharitychallenge.com for full application details and information. Please note that the application process for the 2017 GCC is only open from October 15, 2016, through November 15, 2016 (5:00 PM).

The drawing for the 34 charities that have applied to participate in the 2017 GCC will be held 100% at random in December 2016 (TBA).

For the latest event information and application guidelines, please visit www.greatcharitychallenge.com and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greatcharitychallenge.

Anne Caroline Valtin
annecaroline@equestriansport.com