Aiken, SC - Held at Phillip and Evie Dutton's True Prospect Farm winter training facility in Aiken, SC, March 11, 2010, the Aiken Olympic Gala was enjoyed by all who gathered in attendance for the benefit of United States High Performance Eventing riders and the United States Equestrian Team Foundation.
Evie Dutton reflected on the evening, saying, "The event was a great success and we had fabulous attendance. There were approximately 250 people there, and everyone had a good time. This was our third year putting on the Gala, and it has grown more and more each time. We look forward to it every year; we get such incredible support from the community and it goes to a great cause as it benefits riders, drivers, and the USET Foundation."
Guests enjoyed cocktails and heavy hors d'oeuvres as they bid on silent auction items and listened to guest speakers Phillip Dutton (United States Leading Event Rider for the past ten years), Boyd Martin (2009 Eventing Rider of the Year), and Mark Phillips (Chef d'Equipe of the U.S. Eventing Team).
The "highlight of the evening," Dutton recalled, "was the live auction of a paint yearling pony donated by the event's most generous sponsors, Bruce Duchossois and Jack Wetzel." As the auction began, the crowd was enthusiastic, getting a thrill out of the fact that the pony joined the party by entering the tent and taking center stage on the dance floor. Aiken local Charlie Herrick auctioned off the yearling with the assistance of Boyd Martin for $3,000 to Alexa Seip.
Over the course of the evening the event raised in excess of $20,000, a figure that nearly doubles the funds raised last year. USET Foundation Executive Director Bonnie Jenkins was also in attendance, and remarked on the Gala's significance to the Foundation by acknowledging those who made it possible, saying "I am so grateful to all those who put this wonderful evening together, especially Evie and Phillip who have opened their beautiful farm and Bruce and Jack for their generosity. If the excitement and enthusiasm of this evening is any indication, I would say that Eventing in the U.S. is alive and well!"
The event was made possible by HnD Stables, Security Federal Bank and Trust, Aiken County Farm Supply, Equine Divine, Johnson Construction & Absolute Green Insulation, Southern Equine Veterinary Clinic, Smith, Massey, Brodie, Guynn & Mayes, Phillip & Evie Dutton, Phoenix Printing, and Meybohm Realtors.
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.
For more information on the USET Foundation, please call (908) 234-1251, or visit USET ONLINE at www.uset.org.
Photo Credit: Left to right, Bonnie Jenkins, Phillip Dutton, and Mark Phillips. Photo © 2010 listaphoto.com.