Tag Archives: equestrian community

Equine Non-Profits Granted Nearly $40,000 by USA Equestrian Trust

Next Grant Application Period Opens Early 2019

July 25, 2018 — Lexington, KY — USA Equestrian Trust has awarded nearly $40,000 in grants to help fund equine-focused projects by four non-profits. Since the inception of its grants program, the Trust has awarded nearly $2.1 million in grants.

The projects funded as part of the grant application period ending in May were:

ASBURY UNIVERSITY ($5,000) to fund scholarships for students participating in the university’s service mount program, which trains horses for service with police, military, and national park rangers.

MEMORIAL HOSPITAL AT GULFPORT FOUNDATION ($3,212.75) to provide helmets and safety education to young riders.

RACING SURFACES TESTING LABORATORY ($25,423) to examine the effects of weight on the behavior of show horses’ hooves and legs while in the air. The research will compare horses with corrective and performance shoeing to flat-shod horses.

SACRAMENTO AREA HUNTER JUMPER ASSOCIATION ($5,000) to offer a free training clinic to its members, who are entry-level exhibitors and low-budget owners. The money for this grant was allocated from funding reserved for Hunter/Jumper activities in California and Nevada.

The Trust’s next grant application period will begin early in 2019. Equine non-profits wishing to make a request for funding during that application period will be required to fill out the online application form at http://trusthorses.org. To be notified once the application period has opened, please email grants@trusthorses.org.

About USA Equestrian Trust

USA Equestrian Trust’s mission is to assist in preserving and/or enhancing the quality of equestrian sport in the United States of America. Its objects and purposes are exclusively charitable, educational, and dedicated to the fostering of equestrian sports. The Trust is a private foundation pursuant to the United States Internal Revenue Code.

Contact: Press Link
Phone: 516-848-4867
Email: dderosa1@optonline.net

Savonna Adell Joins Forces with JustWorld International as Newest Ambassador

Savonna Adell and Sportin Around. Photo by: SportFot.

Wellington, Fla. – April 12, 2018 – Up-and-coming junior rider Savonna Adell is passionate about equestrian sport, and now she is excited to be giving back to the sport and the community by joining JustWorld International as their newest ambassador. JustWorld International is dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty by funding local partners around the world helping children thrive. JustWorld’s involvement in the equestrian community provides unique resources for fundraising and a unique network for raising awareness.

“I am very excited to join the team of ambassadors at JustWorld International,” expressed Adell. “I understand the importance of giving back to the community and I am happy to be helping other children around the world. I am looking forward to volunteering at events and representing JustWorld at horse shows around the country.”

As an ambassador, Adell will act as a spokesperson for JustWorld in her local community, among friends, and at horse shows. She has also pledged to make an annual donation to benefit JustWorld, in addition to volunteering time to JustWorld events. JustWorld ambassadors can also choose to host fundraising efforts such as bake sales and Horseless Horse Shows. All proceeds from an ambassador’s event will go directly to a JustWorld project.

JustWorld International was founded in 2003 by equestrian, Jessica Newman. “I started to realize that there was a lot more out there and that I was living in a very privileged circle,” said Newman. “I’d done everything I wanted in the sport as a competitor and it was time to dedicate my life to doing something for others.”

For the past fifteen years, hundreds of Rider Ambassadors and supporters, including juniors, amateurs, and professionals from around the world, have changed thousands of children’s lives by helping with fundraising efforts and spreading awareness.

Adell is a 12-year-old junior athlete who is quickly climbing the ranks in equestrian sport, having recently been named Reserve Circuit Champion in the Large Children’s Pony Hunter division with Spellbound, after winning the championship honors during World Champion Hunter Rider week at the Winter Equestrian Festival. A Bloomfield Hills, Michigan native, Adell shows under the tutelage of trainers Gary and Kelsey Duffy of Little Brook Farms, based in Wellington, Florida.


Contact: Rebecca Walton
phone 561.753.3389 fax 561.753.3386

Equestrian Aid Foundation’s Night of Enchantment

Keith Greco’s Althea Raised Unprecedented Funds for Horsemen and Women in Need

Wellington, Fla. February 15, 2017 — Palm Beach County and their equestrian communities gathered together on Sunday, February 12 for the Equestrian Aid Foundation’s annual event, a night that they will never forget. Althea was held at The Global Dressage Festival Stadium of Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.

“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 President Stephanie Riggio Bulger. “This organization is incredibly grateful to Keith Greco for this compelling performance. The success of tonight will provide Equestrian Aid with the opportunity to help many horsemen and horsewomen in need.”

Produced by Keith Greco, Althea was a tribute to the one of a kind relationship between horses and humans. The equestrian ballet told the story of Argos, a horseman who is crippled and despairing, who finds himself in a land where a magical stallion, Althea, has the power to heal. The evening raised money to support Equestrian Aid programs that provide financial assistance to those in the equestrian community suffering from chronic illness and injury.

Former Cavalia headliners Sylvia Zerbini, S. Caleb Carinci-Asch, Kansas Carradine, other equestrian artists, and their breathtaking horses kicked off the evening with their spectacular performance, which was created exclusively for the night. The evening included VIP cocktails and dinner, as well as 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,” said Keith Greco. “There are so many men and women 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) organization that has raised over $2.6 million in its nearly twenty year history to assist individuals from all riding disciplines, equine professions, backgrounds and ages who are coping with serious injury or illness. For more information about the Equestrian Aid Foundation, please visit equestrianaidfoundation.org or follow us on Facebook. You can make a difference in the lives of horse people in need.

Contact: Jessica Greene, Sirota Public Relations
212.486.3319, jessica@sirotapr.com

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
954 205 7992

Equestrian Aid Foundation Celebrates Milestone 20th Anniversary

Photo: Nic Roldan.

Leading Non-Profit reflects on serving equestrians from all corners of the horse world

Wellington, FL. Aug. 23, 2016 – The Equestrian Aid Foundation is proud to announce its twentieth year as the leading nonprofit that assists individuals from all riding disciplines, equine professions, backgrounds and ages who are coping with catastrophic injury or illness.

Equestrian Aid was founded in 1996 by six-time Olympic dressage rider, Robert Dover, together with R. Scot Evans, Gene Mische, Mason Phelps, Jr., Robert Ross and Kim Tudor. Initially, the organization focused on providing financial support to those battling HIV/AIDS. Some ten years ago, the Foundation broadened its mission to provide needs-based assistance for basic living and rehabilitation expenses to any equestrian who is suffering from a severe or life-threatening illness or injury.

“The Equestrian Aid Foundation has made a difference in the lives of so many,” states Stephanie Bulger, Equestrian Aid Foundation Board President. “This milestone celebrates all of those who share our mission. Special appreciation goes to our donors, who have embraced the responsibility that we have as horse lovers and horse-sport participants to take care of our own. We join our grant recipients in sending heartfelt thanks to all of those who have supported Equestrian Aid throughout these 20 years.”

Since its inception, the Equestrian Aid Foundation has provided over $2.5 million in direct grant support to recipients in 30 states across America. As the Foundation’s reputation expands nationally, opportunities are also growing for Equestrian Aid to provide essentials such as food and housing, health insurance, transportation, physical therapy, and more to a greater number of equestrians in need.

To meet this challenge, Equestrian Aid has hired its first Executive Director, Louise Smith. “As a dressage rider and farm owner, I understand how quickly life can change for people involved with horses. When equestrians become seriously hurt or ill, they sometimes risk losing everything,” says Smith. “As more people understand our purpose, I believe that they will want to get involved and help.”

Steven Castillo was a leading dressage trainer and promising “l” judge for the United States Dressage Federation in 1997. When he was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, Steven turned to Equestrian Aid to help pay for medical and housing expenses since his prognosis.

“After discovering the Equestrian Aid Foundation, my life truly changed,” states Steven. “The fear of not being about to put food on the table or pay medical expenses was wiped away. Equestrian Aid has been my biggest blessing.”

A more recent Equestrian Aid grantee is Linda Andrisani, one of the most well-respected hunter judges in the country. In March 2011, Linda was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of the right parotid gland. As a result, she was unable to work for a period of time, but has since recovered.

“After my diagnosis, I didn’t know if my life would ever go back to normal,” Linda reflects. “The Equestrian Aid Foundation helped to provide a sense of security that created hope in spite of life’s circumstances.”

The Equestrian Aid Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization that has raised over $2.5 million in its nearly twenty year history to assist individuals from all riding disciplines, equine professions, backgrounds and ages who are coping with serious injury or illness.

For more information about the Equestrian Aid Foundation, please visit equestrianaidfoundation.org or follow us on Facebook. You can make a difference in the lives of horse people in need.

Contact: Jessica Greene, Sirota Public Relations
212.486.3319, Jessica@sirotapr.com

20 Years of Equestrian Aid

“There but for the grace of God go I. If it were not for the Equestrian Aid Foundation, I would be on the other side of the table at the soup kitchen.” — Joe, Equestrian Aid grant recipient

It all began around a different table. One night 20 years ago, over dinner, five friends established a common goal: to make the world a better place for seriously ill equestrians.

Today, the Equestrian Aid Foundation continues to effect a world of good for catastrophically ill and injured equestrians facing financial crisis.

We’ve all heard that life can change in an instant. For Joe, it did. A talented farrier, he didn’t hesitate to shoe a horse that had the reputation for being challenging. Unfortunately, the horse fell on him. At first all seemed fine. Joe went to lunch with his assistant, but as they went to leave, he couldn’t stand up and knew something was horribly wrong.

Joe had suffered major spinal cord injuries. He underwent surgery but was told he would never walk again. But Joe has faith and determination. That, paired with financial assistance from the Equestrian Aid Foundation, has allowed him to literally put one foot in front of the other. Although Joe will never shoe horses again, he willed himself to walk and continues to rebuild his life each and every day.

Prior to his accident, Joe was the one who rescued others. He volunteered at his church’s soup kitchen every week and nurtured everything from dogs to doves. He still does. Through hardship, Joe and many other equestrians just like him have maintained the essence of their being while overcoming catastrophic injury or illness and financial crisis.

The Equestrian Aid Foundation marks its 20th Anniversary milestone this year.

For your donations, both small and large, our recipients thank you. For your belief that the equestrian community can and will take care of its own, we thank you.

Together, we can make a difference!

To see first-hand how your generous gift helps, please visit EquestrianAidFoundation.org.

If you have any questions or need more information, please contact us at info@equestrianaid.org or 1.800.792.6068.

A Royal Victory at Royal Windsor Horse Show

Katie Jerram and Her Majesty The Queen’s Barber’s Shop.

Despite Wednesday’s cancellation, Royal Windsor Horse Show set off in style with packed crowds enjoying the sunshine, the top equestrian sport and the displays. Her Majesty The Queen was delighted to win first place in the RoR Tattersalls Thoroughbred Ridden Show Horse Championship, with her prized homebred Barber’s Shop.

The main national show jumping class of the day was the 1.40m Grade A & B two phase competition, which proved to be a challenging course, with only four of the 30 starters jumping a double clear round. Fourth to go, Tim Stockdale, set the early pace, jumping a double clear in a time of 29.85 seconds to finish eventual third; however, it was Philip Miller aboard Unbelievable Lady who claimed the £1,200 winner’s prize. The chestnut mare, by Unbelievable Darco, jumped an immaculate round to secure victory, knocking 1.78 seconds off runner-up Trevor Breen’s time.

Further winners on the day were Katie Meredith and Zoralyn, who took the Land Rover Grades B & C Handicap from Nicola Wilson and Maja Burnell who galloped to victory in the opening International CSI-Am competition of the show riding the nine-year-old Crona Cr. The other jumping class of the day was the Olympic Star Spotters for six-year-olds, which saw 12 riders jump double clear to share equal first place.

28 horse four-in-hands from eight nations competed in the first leg of the Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix – the dressage. First place after this phase, and by a significant margin, is the current World Champion, Boyd Exell from Australia. His closest challengers are the three members of the gold medal winning Netherlands team at WEG two years ago – Ijsbrand Chardon, Theo Timmerman and Koos de Ronde. The winner of the last two years, Chester Weber from the USA, had to be content with fifth position as he prepares for the second phase, the cross-country marathon.

Boyd Exell
Boyd Exell

Exell, who is driving a team of mixed KWPN horses of varying experience, has a lead of some 7-penalties over the rest of the field; the next four contenders are bunched close together, separated by just two penalties. With Exell and Chardon, both multiple winners here over the years, keen to reclaim the title, Weber on his mettle to retain it and Timmerman and de Ronde looking to take it for the first time, Saturday’s marathon promises outstanding sport and great excitement.

For the second year running, Her Majesty The Queen’s Barber’s Shop, ridden by Katie Jerram, landed the RoR Tattersalls Thoroughbred Ridden Show Horse Championship. The fourteen-year-old gelding will reappear to contest the Ladies Show Horse Friday.

The Leeman Family was compensated for their aborted journey Wednesday, when their homebred two-year-old filly, Kellythorpes Spot The Difference, made her show ring debut to take the In Hand Coloured Championship. It was also co-producer Janay Leeman’s birthday and rider Frazer Atherden’s parents’ wedding anniversary.

Tickets are still available for Friday, Saturday and Sunday and can be purchased on www.rwhs.co.uk, via the box office on 0844 581 4960 from the UK and +44 (0) 121 796 6290 internationally. Alternatively, tickets are available locally at Windsor Information Centre either over the counter or by telephoning +44 (0) 1753 743900.

For more information, please contact:
Gayle Telford
Revolution Sports + Entertainment
E: gayle@revolutionsports.co.uk T: +44 (0)207 592 1207

Royal Windsor Horse Show

The Show will take place from 11-15 May 2016. Over 50,000 visitors are expected to attend the 74th year of Royal Windsor Horse Show which offers its audience astounding displays in the main Castle Arena, such as the DAKS Pony Club Mounted Games and The Shetland Pony Grand National. As well as the equestrian competitions and activities, there are over 220 shops in the Shopping Village, with a wide range of goods for sale, from jewellery and fashion, to food and drink. Her Majesty The Queen has attended every year since the Show started in 1943 and it is the only time of the year that the private grounds of Windsor Castle are open to the public. Royal Windsor Horse Show is organised by Windsor Equestrian Promotions Ltd, a part of HPower Group, also organisers of Olympia, The London International Horse Show www.hpower.co.uk.

The Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebration

Due to The Queen’s 90th Birthday Celebration taking place in the evenings following the Horse Show, there will be no evening performances at Royal Windsor Horse Show this year. These will return for 2017. The Horse Show will be ending at about 6pm each day. Royal Windsor Horse Show tickets do not include access to The Queen’s Birthday Celebration and there will be nowhere to watch the performance without The Celebration ticket.

David Oliver Willis Wowed Judges & Audience Members Alike at AEGT Season Finale

AEGT Finale Winner, David Oliver Willis.

Wellington, Fla. – March 31, 2015 – After nine weeks of intense competition, the top 12 finalists battled it out on the stage last Sunday night at the 2016 American Equestrians Got Talent Finale, a fundraiser to support the United States Equestrian Team Foundation. Ultimately, it was gifted musician David Oliver Willis who took home the title of America’s Most Talented Equestrian and a $10,000 grand prize courtesy of Robert Ross PA of Keller Williams Luxury Real Estate.

Representing the sport of Dressage, David Oliver Willis made his first impression on the Wellington audience during the fourth week of auditions held at the White Horse Fashion Cuisine, where he blew spectators away with his original song and rendition of Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change Is Gonna Come,’ securing his spot in the finale.

Originally from Mount Dora, Florida, Willis shared his path to the stage, beginning as a child. “I’ve been singing since I was a little kid in church, where my mom was a minister for years and my dad was a deacon. Sometime after high school I started taking it more seriously and playing some acoustic gigs,” he commented.

As a three-time American Idol participant, Willis admitted this wasn’t his first time in the limelight. “I made it to the top 20 guys category on season 12,” he said.

Following his big win at the finale among 12 fierce talents, Willis divulged, “I decided to stay true to what I felt, what music I like the most, and who I am as an artist – I think that helped me win this competition in particular. The exposure here at AEGT is great and I’ve met so many incredible people. After this I am going to go in the studio and get my full album completed!”

In addition to his cash prize, AEGT Judge and USET supporter, Mark Bellissimo, offered Willis the opportunity to perform at his Central Park horse show in September. Last year, this same offer garnered 2015 second place finalist, Ki-Juan Minors, a record label deal with P. Diddy.

The American Equestrians Got Talent 2016 season raised close to $200,000 for the United States Equestrian Team Foundation. The donation from Juan Gando of the White Horse Fashion Cuisine totaled $31,100 from the weekly auditions. The silent auction that featured the Roadtrips trip to the Rio Olympics, as well as other impressive items, also raised vital funds to support high performance programs. Without the generosity of the sponsors, judges, donors, auction buyers, volunteers, and guests, the event would not have been such a resounding success. Thank you to Robert Dover for his support and dedication to American Equestrians Got Talent!

“What an amazing night of American Equestrians Got Talent finale!” Dover said. “I truly appreciate all our sponsors, donors, judges, contestants and volunteers, and my husband, Robert Ross, more than you can know! Thank you to Annie Cizadlo and everyone at the USET, USEF and Phelps Media Group for making the entire AEGT season a success again this year. Thank you Wellington for coming out and supporting AEGT 2016 and our high performance athletes and their programs. Go Team USA!”

13-year-old vocalist Kayden Mueller-Janssen of Wellington, Florida took home second place at Sunday night’s finale winning $7,500 sponsored by Kasey Perry and Family. Regarding her whirlwind experience, she shared, “I am so happy. My dad came all the way from Europe to see me perform. He will also be coming with me to LA to support my acting and singing. Even if I didn’t win, I am still proud of myself because it is such an experience. I love singing, and to be honest I wouldn’t know what to do without it.”

2016 third place finisher and second time AEGT finale performer, Robert Gallardo, wowed the judges with his seemingly gravity-defying dance moves. The talented dancer won $5,000 sponsored by Pat Stemple and Roundabout Stables LLC. Gallardo was pleased with his third place finish and looks forward to returning to the stage next year to showcase his self-taught talents.

Rounding out the top four was groom and vocalist, Teaghan James. She received $2,500. James was encouraged to compete by recording artist, Ki-Juan Minors, with whom she performs with regularly.

Minors returned to the AEGT stage prior to Sunday’s finale as an opener, and announced his album will be hopefully be available later this year.

Other openers included the Charlie Tota Band, AEGT 2015 Winner Brian Lookabill, and Felippe Biatti, an American Idol competitor and opener for One Direction.

The atmosphere of the night was electric. The culmination of an impressive list of unique auction items, delicious food provided by White Horse Catering seven esteemed guest judges and a beautiful venue, made this event a smash hit.

The United States Equestrian Team Foundation (www.uset.org) is the non-profit organization that supports the competition, training, coaching, travel and educational needs of America’s elite and developing international, high-performance horses and athletes in partnership with the United States Equestrian Federation.

George Snow Scholarship Fund Tops 7th Annual Great Charity Challenge

Lindsay Tomeu, dressed as Wendy from Peter Pan, and Bonapart.

Wellington, FL – February 6, 2016 – Horses and riders braved pouring rain in the name of giving on Saturday night as the 7th Annual Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments® (GCC), was featured during week four of the 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF). Shane Sweetnam, Kaely Tomeu, and Lindsay Tomeu were the winning team riders on behalf of the George Snow Scholarship Fund, team sponsors Spy Coast & Preston, and corporate sponsor Fidelity Investments® in the night’s event at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL.

In its seventh year, the Great Charity Challenge awarded over $1.65 million dollars in 2016, with 100% of proceeds distributed in full to 50 Palm Beach County charities, bringing the event up to $9.2 million distributed to date. The competition is a pro-am team relay with each team made up of junior and amateur riders competing side by side with top professionals.

Mark Bellissimo, who founded the GCC with his daughter Paige, said, “We truly saw the dedication of everyone involved in this event tonight. The weather was not on our side, but the horses, riders, grooms, trainers, sponsors, charity representatives, spectators, and staff braved some incredible weather conditions for this special event. We can’t thank them enough. We know how much of an impact the GCC has for Palm Beach County charities, and for everyone to stick through it means so much. Congratulations to all of our riders, charities, and sponsors for a wonderful night, despite the rain.”

Spy Coast & Preston sponsored this year’s winning team in addition to corporate sponsor Fidelity Investments®. The theme of the event was “fairy tales,” and the top three riders dressed the part of Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, and Wendy from the famous children’s story. Lindsay Tomeu (dressed as Wendy) jumped first at the 1.10m height with Bonapart, a 15-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding. Kaely Tomeu (Tinker Bell) was next to go riding Belle Bleu S, a 15-year-old Holsteiner mare. Shane Sweetnam (as Peter Pan) anchored the team at the 1.30m level, flying through the course aboard Darero, an eight-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding. Together, the horses and riders completed the fastest time of 89.55 seconds to win the top prize of $150,000 for their charity.

“It feels really good. It is more exciting that it is for a good cause and not just for our own satisfaction,” Kaely Tomeu stated.

Her younger sister, Lindsay, added, “I am thrilled. I honestly thought we would never win it. Every year we think we have a chance and something happens, so I am delighted.”

Shane Sweetnam and Darero
Shane Sweetnam and Darero

Sweetnam remarked, “Obviously we had a really strong team this year. Kaely wins a lot, Lindsay wins a lot, and I had a nice horse that has just come into the country and was really good out there. It is nice for the George Snow charity. They told us beforehand that if they went over $60,000, there was a donor that was going to give an extra $100,000, which is really great, so that gave us an extra incentive to give it as much as we could.

“You never know how things are going to go here. There are so many fast riders, we would have been happy to be in the top three,” Sweetnam added. “It is great for the foundation and a great cause. Every year this event gets bigger. Mark (Bellissimo) and the team have done an incredible job.”

The George Snow Scholarship Fund is dedicated to helping individuals in financial need through a scholarship program for residents of Palm Beach County who are continuing their education. Their goal is to help deserving individuals within the community achieve their career goals, an objective which has the added benefit of bettering the community at large. In short, their goal is to insure that no deserving scholar in the community will be deprived of higher education because of a shortage of funds.

Timothy Snow, president of the George Snow Scholarship Fund, was on hand for the evening and proudly accepted the winning check on behalf of his organization.

“We were in the GCC one of the first years, and we have been trying to get back in ever since,” Snow said of the event. “We were thrilled to be chosen this year and the fact that we won it is an amazing blessing. I am essentially speechless.”

Snow went on to speak about watching the team’s winning round and how the money will help his organization.

“First of all, I want to thank every rider that rode in this event tonight,” Snow stated. “With the conditions that we had with the rain, they really had a lot of heart, and they gave a lot to all the charities that are going to benefit here tonight. It was an amazing event all the way around. When our team came out, we did not really know what to expect. We met our team earlier and they seemed very confident, so that felt good. But when they went out and they turned in the time that they did, which was so substantially under everybody else, I could not believe it. It was amazing. They are obviously a very talented team and they showed it tonight for sure.”

Since its inception the George Snow Scholarship Fund has awarded over 7.3 million dollars in educational grants. In the year 2015 alone, the Scholarship Fund awarded $615,791.15 in scholarships and scholar support services to 67 students. This level of support places the Fund as one of Palm Beach County’s largest sources of educational grants. The Fund aims to grant at least one award to each public high school in Palm Beach County. Known as experts in scholarship administration, the George Snow Scholarship Fund has developed a reputation for creating innovative programs, which address the educational needs of those in our community.

“Our organization helps young people in Palm Beach County continue their education on to college,” Snow detailed. “What we look for are young people who have financial need, but are what I like to call ‘rock stars’. They are very talented, they have great academics, they are active in their school and community, but most all have overcome major challenges in their life. There are all kinds of circumstances, and yet they have not allowed those circumstances to impede their success, and they are at the top of their peer groups. We are there for them, and what sets us apart from most every other organization of our kind as scholarship providers, is they become part of our family. We buy them computers if they need them to go to school, we get their college physicals for them, we just wrote a check to a young lady who needed a root canal, so we have an emergency fund for them, and many different programs. We do for them what we would all do for our own sons and daughters.”

Snow also spoke of the extremely generous anonymous donor who gave the charity an additional $100,000 for their win.

“He said that if we had reached the $60,000 level, he would give us an additional $100,000, so tonight is essentially a quarter-of-a-million dollar night for us,” Snow declared. “It is unbelievable. It is so special, and the people who organize this have no idea the good that they are doing in our county. They are a huge blessing to so many people, and we thank them for that.”

Coming in second place was the team for Bella’s Angels, sponsored by EnTrust as well as corporate sponsor Wellington Equestrian Realty. The team of Sydney Shulman, Cloe Hymowitz, and Sophie Rueben completed the course with a combined time of 93.94 seconds to earn $125,000 for their charity.

Kids’ Cancer Foundation finished third for the second year in a row and won $112,500.The team was made up of Ignacio Maurin, Emanuel Andrade, and Victoria Karam, sponsored by Hollow Creek and corporate sponsor Meralex Farm. They finished with a combined total of 94.48 seconds.

The GCC features a sliding scale for the balance of the proceeds down to $15,500 for 37th place, ensuring that everyone is a winner.

GCC Executive Director Anne Caroline Valtin said, “Tonight’s class was a true demonstration of sportsmanship and philanthropy. Even with some of strongest rains we’ve experienced this winter, the teams and riders did not back down. Their dedication to these organizations was nothing short of stoic. We can’t thank them enough for braving the weather, all in the name of helping!”

New for 2016, the Grand Prix Society was formed for donors over $50,000 by the Ziegler Family Foundation. This new initiative offers donors the opportunity to designate all or part of their support to a limited list of cornerstone Palm Beach County nonprofit organizations, which resulted in an additional $50,000 of grants distributed during the evening.

More information on the competition and winning charities of the 2016 GCC will be available soon. For more information on the GCC, please visit www.greatcharitychallenge.com.

Lauren Fisher for Jennifer Wood Media, Inc.

Great Charity Challenge to Distribute $1.6 Million to Local Non-Profit Organizations

The 2015 GCC theme of superheroes was a hit with riders and spectators alike. Photo by Lois Spatz.

This year’s Great Charity Challenge returns to the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, turning wishes into a reality for 40 Palm Beach County charities

Wellington, FL – February 3, 2016 – For the seventh year in a row, the Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments® (GCC) returns to Wellington during the 2016 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) circuit on Saturday, February 6, 2016. Adding to the $7.5 million the event has distributed to date, this year’s fairy tale theme will showcase Olympic and amateur riders dressed as Peter Pan, Alice in Wonderland or even Princess Elsa and will distribute $1.6 million to over 40 Palm Beach County charities.

Founded in 2010 by Equestrian Sport Productions CEO Mark Bellissimo and his daughter Paige, the Great Charity Challenge has seen the equestrian community take charitable giving to a new level through its love of equestrian sport. The GCC event has impacted thousands of lives with 100% of its proceeds being donated directly to local organizations.

“Our family and Wellington Equestrian Partners would like to invite individuals and families to this true community celebration where we honor local non-profit organizations, their staff, and volunteers, along with the generous philanthropists that make this event possible every year,” commented Mark Bellissimo.

Brand new this year, a Prince and Princess costume contest will give children the chance to dress to impress. A mobile judging panel will determine the lucky winners who will receive a custom gift basket, including a Breyer model horse and WEF Boutique products, a ride around the International Ring in Cinderella’s very own horse-drawn carriage, as well as the chance to choose a lucky charity to receive a $1,000 donation, which will also be matched to their school.

Presentation of the winner is scheduled to take place during the midway point of the event, on the main stage, around 7:45 PM.

Last year’s super hero-themed event brought thousands to the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) to celebrate the heroes of the community.

To date, the GCC has made incredible contributions to the Palm Beach County community and everyone at Equestrian Sport Productions looks forward to Saturday night. The competition will offer Free General Admission with gates opening at 6 PM. The first team competing in this unique costume class is scheduled to enter the competition arena under the lights at 6:30 PM. Entertainment include on-site dining, live band, a Venetian hand painted carousel, petting zoo, face painters as well as shopping experiences with local vendors.

Off-site parking with shuttle service is offered free of charge at 13500 South Shore Blvd. There is a $20 charge per carload for on-site parking. For more information, including a list of the participating charities and sponsorship opportunities, please visit www.greatcharitychallenge.com.

Be sure to check out videos from past events: https://vimeo.com/91580121.

The extended video shows how the GCC has touched thousands of lives: https://vimeo.com/90690406.