A major player in the accounting and financial consulting market, Deloitte, has chosen to sponsor the 27-year-old darling of the U.S. dressage world, Laura Graves. Judy Sloan, principle at Deloitte, made the announcement along with Graves and her coach Debbie McDonald at a cocktail reception at Betsy Juliano’s Havensafe Farm located in Wellington Florida. Graves said she tackles everything she does 100 percent, and her dream to win gold at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games is now one step closer. “I am overwhelmed by this support that allows me to make a game plan to get to Rio and win in Rio, regardless of what else is going on in my life,” she said.
The Geneva, Florida, resident made the announcement with her horse, Verdades, nearby. The 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding sported Deloitte emblazoned gear but seemed unfazed by the clicking of cameras at the quiet reception. Graves and her gelding placed fifth in the Grand Prix Freestyle at the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France, where they soon became a favorite of the international crowd. She has owned the horse she calls “Diddy” since he was a foal and she credits McDonald with her meteoric rise to the top. Continuing her education with McDonald is one of the rider’s priorities in her playbook to make it to the top.
“It’s a game changer for Laura, for sure,” McDonald said. “I know it’s been hard for her to find the time to put into training because she is starting a business, but I did tell her last year, very early, before he did all his amazing things, that I believe that this horse is one of the best horses in the world.”
Although Deloitte is active in supporting other high-performance athletes, Graves is the first equestrian they have chosen.
“There will be two types of support,” Sloan said. “One is obviously the monetary part that gives her some freedom to do things. The other will be the exposure and the development that we’ll do as a firm with Laura around – how she tells her story and her ability to interact with other leaders. We’ll put Laura in front of clients, and I think all of that will be powerful in terms of development.”
Sloan, herself an avid equestrian albeit a self avowed “weekend warrior,” said Graves was chosen because she represents Deloitte’s ideals when sponsoring athletes.
“Laura is very much the embodiment of what we are looking for, with the grit, the determination, the sportsmanship and the striving for beyond excellence,” Sloan said. “She really embodies the values that we look for in the athletes that we sponsor. We are absolutely thrilled to be doing a couple of firsts here and that it’s with Laura.”