The First Lady of Kentucky, wife of Governor Steve Beshear, took two hours of her busy holiday schedule to meet with the Equestrian Aid Foundation’s Managing Director Sheryl Kursar, Director of Grant recipients Janice Gray and Vice President of the Board of Governors Mary Phelps Hathaway, to learn about the organization of “people helping horse people” and to offer input and ideas based on her vast experience in the field of fundraising for worthy causes in the equestrian world. Life long equestrienne who events and trains in dressage with Reese Koffler Stanfield shared her interest expressing that “Horses create a common bond, and we all speak the same language as horse people."
Beshear listened intently as Janice Gray opened the meeting talking about the 15-year-old organization founded by Dressage Olympian Robert Dover, and about some of the many people EAF has helped both financially, and even more so in hope. “I have spoken with recipients who were in such despair,” said Gray, “until they opened their mail, and there among a pile of bills was a check from strangers who cared.”
Long before she became the First Lady of Kentucky, Jane Beshear a life-long equine enthusiast and advocate, served on the board of directors of Equestrian Events Inc., which organizes the Kentucky Rolex 3-Day Event and the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation Board.
It has been in her capacity as First Lady of Kentucky, wife of Governor Steve Beshear continues to make an impact among the many causes she participates in, by founding the Horses and Hope organization dedicated to educate, improve awareness and offer screenings for the often overlooked members of Kentucky’s horse world, the women of the backstretch in Kentucky’s horseracing industry. Among other honors for her efforts and contributions, The First Lady was featured as NBC’s “Making a Difference” the week of the Kentucky Derby. Recently, she was a member of the World Equestrian Games Foundation Board, which successfully hosted in 2010 the first ever Alltech/FEI World Games outside of Europe, an event that attracted more than half-a-million attendees from around the globe. The First Lady was the perfect hostess for the World Equestrian Games attending all events throughout the three weeks of activities, and proudly represents Kentucky, “The Horse Capitol of the World.”
EAF’s Managing Director Sheryl Kursar an event rider as well began to do work for EAF in PR and Marketing which was her corporate life. Kursar was drawn to EAF after the well publicized accident suffered by Ralph Hill, and discovered during the visit both she and Beshear found a common bond having both worked with Hill prior to his accident. After a detailed presentation, The First Lady simply asked, “What can we do for you?” and then began to share suggestions based on her experience in building the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation. Recognizing many of the names on the EAF’s Board of Directors and Board of Governors, she emphasized the importance of motivating the board members to use their contacts to personally reach out by mail for donations and support. Corporations as well will be happy to lend their support both for several of the signature events offered throughout the year.
The Equestrian Aid Foundation’s mission is to assure donors most of the money funded will go where it is needed to the recipients. The overhead is kept to a part time staff of three people, Sheryl Kursar, Janise Gray, and acting treasurer Jackie McCutchan. The challenge is in raising the enormous amount of funds needed to help the growing number of applicants in a difficult economy. At the First Lady’s suggestion she had us contact Laura Klumb, the Executive Director for The Kentucky Horse Park Foundation, where the EAF team further expanded their knowledge the following day visiting the Kentucky Horse Park, glittering from the recent snowfall. Klumb, newly appointed and from the more corporate venue of hospital development brings a refreshing perspective to the Kentucky Horse Park Foundation and a vast amount of experience and perspective.
Armed with knowledge, and energized and inspired we now ready ourselves for a strong ending of 2010 and exciting new perspectives for the coming year. As you enjoy the holiday season and reflect on all you have been blessed with in the world where we all have a common bond sharing the passion of the horse, please remember to give to a cause which goes a long way in helping those who share that passion, and speak our language. At any time someone you know could need our help, and it could even be you.
Please donate today to the Equestrian Aid Foundation, your holiday gift for the good of our world.
Photos: 1-Mary Phelps Hathaway, Janice Gray, The First Lady of Kentucky, Jane Beshear, and Sheryl Kursar in front of the office of the Governor of Kentucky, Steve Beshear
2-Janice Gray, The First Lady of Kentucky, Jane Beshear, and Sherly Kursar
3-The Governor of Kentucky and First Lady, Steve and Jane Beshear
4-An image of a horse held by a rider is part of the artwork in the rotunda of the Kentucky State Capitol building.
5-Janice Gray, Sheryl Kursar, and Mary Phelps Hathaway touch the toe of Abraham Lincoln in the Kentucky State Capitol building, a custom meant to produce good luck. In fact Lincoln's toe is well worn from all who have passed through this building.