Gladstone, NJ - In the spring of 2014, Margaret H. Duprey and The Barnfield Foundation launched The Jonathan Wentz Memorial Challenge for High Performance Para Dressage to help raise $800,000 for the discipline. Through the challenge, Duprey and The Barnfield Foundation each pledged up to $200,000, matching dollar for dollar, gift commitments of $4,000 and above. This month the goal was reached, providing the Para Dressage High Performance program with critical funding.
"I am very excited that we have reached the goal," expressed Duprey. "It is a wonderful boost for the Para Dressage discipline and will hopefully provide more awareness for the sport in the United States. The USET Foundation did a great job spreading the word about the need for funding through the campaign and social media, which will help the riders prepare for Rio and representing the USA."
The purpose of the Challenge was to establish a base of funding for each of the next four years, which will provide for a High Performance program that will include training sessions, coaching and international competition opportunities leading up to and including the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The financial need for Para Dressage athletes at the High Performance international level can be quite significant. Unlike in most countries, the United States Equestrian Teams do not receive any government subsidies. The main source of funds for athletes to participate in international competition comes through the USET Foundation from individuals and foundations whose interest in and commitment to equestrian sport motivates them to make generous charitable contributions.
In addition to shipping horses to Europe and making sure that the correct support staff is in place, such as veterinarians and farriers, additional support staff is also needed for the riders so they are able to function at the highest level, both physically and emotionally, during competitions.
While traveling, especially overseas, wheelchair accessibility can be limited, and a rider benefits from having a personal care assistant to help them to not only move through low accessibility areas but also to monitor their physical well-being. Other supplementary support staff may include a person who is physically capable of helping a rider to mount their horse before competition and a physical therapist to work the rider's muscles.
USET Foundation Executive Director Bonnie B. Jenkins stated, "The Para Dressage High Performance program is growing each year, as are the number of riders who aspire to represent the United States at World Championships and the Paralympic Games. We are most grateful and appreciative to Margaret (Duprey) and The Barnfield Foundation for leading this effort, and to all the donors who made gift commitments allowing us to reach the goal."
The funds raised by The Jonathan Wentz Memorial Challenge for High Performance Para Dressage will give riders the opportunity to achieve competitive excellence in international competition and help them to bring home medals in 2016!