During the USEF National Convention the annual Pegasus Awards were presented to the top 2012 equestrians and equines. It was a night of formality, grandeur, and celebration eclipsed by the sadness of losing Para-Equestrian Dressage rider Jonathan Wentz of Richardson, Texas. Only two weeks after his Paralympic debut in London, Wentz passed away suddenly due to cardiac hypertrophy unknown etiology. During the Pegasus Awards Wentz received one of the eight nominations for the 2012 USEF Equestrian of the Year. His horse NTEC Richter Scale, owned by Kai Handt, also received a top nomination for the 2012 USEF Horse of the Year. As the evening came to a close Jonathan was awarded the Becky Grand Hart Trophy for his outstanding international 2012 year.
In Wentz's absence he was honored with the 2012 Becky Hart Trophy which he earned for his successful international year. Wentz's parents James and Tina Wentz kindly accepted the award on his behalf and were delighted by the support and kindness from his peers.
In honor of Jonathan's nominations and winning the 2012 Becky Grand Hart Trophy Tina Wentz noted, "Jonathan would have been thrilled and honored to receive this award. One of Jonathan's greatest hopes was to be recognized as an elite dedicated athlete who excelled in his sport. He never thought of himself as disabled and certainly didn't want others to view him in those terms. He worked tirelessly to promote and educate the public on what Para-Olympic meant, parallel to the Olympics. Paralympians are first and foremost, athletes giving their all to represent their country and their sport to the utmost best of their ability. They are athletes, who have the added challenge of a physical disability. Becoming a Paralympian and achieving the highest placing of all US Olympic and Paralympic Equestrians this year at London with NTEC Richter Scale was a great joy and honor and validation of all his hard work. It also made him more determined to bring home a medal next time out. Jonathan and his coach, Kai Handt had already begun putting together their game plan for Normandy and Rio and were looking for Jonathan's next Equine Teammate. Jonathan was deeply grateful for his coach and sponsor, Kai Handt and North Texas Equestrian Center for believing in him and for finding NTEC Richter Scale, who took him into the top ten on the FEI Ranking list and just short of a medal in London."
"Horses were a special part of Jonathan's life from the age of two, and he was forever grateful for each of them and all they taught him and the numerous opportunities they gave to him throughout his life. In the last talk Jonathan gave he said, " The journey is part of the experience, the most amazing part. Jonathan had an amazing journey, which included so many amazing individuals, and horses who taught, encouraged, and supported him along the way. We want to express our heartfelt thanks to each and everyone of you and to USEF for recognizing him with this award and USPEA for nominating him. Jonathan rides on in our hearts and we hope his spirit, determination, and love of horses and equestrian sport will ride on through others."
Note: Wentz's sudden passing was due to cardiac hypertrophy unknown etiology. Sudden death related to cardiac hypertrophy is a rare occurrence. Approximately 1/400,000 in young athletes are affected between the ages of 18-30 and this mostly affects young male athletes.
A scholarship in Jonathan Wentz's name has been created at the United States Para-Equestrian Association.
For donations please mail to:
United States Para-Equestrian Association
Jonathan Wentz Scholarship Fund
3940 Verde Vista Drive
Thousand Oaks, CA 91360
*The USPEA is a 501(c)(3) and all donations are tax-deductible.
You may also donate through the USPEA website at www.USPEA.org by clicking the red "Donate Now" button at the bottom of the page. Or click the direct link here. Please specify that the donation is for Jonathan Wentz Scholarship Fund. Any questions about donating can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org