Lake Worth, FL – The atmosphere at the fourth annual Bowling for Equestrians was electrifying. From the thunder of the bowling balls as they sped down the alleys to the misty fog that made the psychedelic lighting system sparkle. The game room was showered with kids testing their skills while young and old alike threw bowling balls down the alleys in hopes of a spare or strike.
The fundraiser, which is the brainchild of the American Hunter-Jumper Foundation, was held at Greenacres Bowl in Lake Worth, FL, on Saturday evening, February 14th for the benefit of the AHJF’s Emergency Relief Fund (ERF), a cause which helps horse(wo)men in need.
Dressage rider Ashley Holzer; hunter riders and trainers Louise Serio, Geoff Teall, Peter Pletcher and Danny Arendt (AHJF South Central Regional Chairman); jumper rider Christian Currey; veterinarians Steve and Jeanette Sewell (Palm Beach Equine) and Kit and Susan Miller (Miller and Associates); announcers Oliver Kennedy (who created an atmosphere of excitement around the raffle), Brian Lookabill (anthem singer for the upcoming AHJF Hunter Classic on February 20th) and Gerry Briggs (a former recipient of the ERF to help offset the medical bills of a heart attack); course designer Michael Rheinheimer, Michele Powers (former owner of Dover Saddlery) and many more veterans were among those you could hear chatting and cheering for groups, barns and individuals. The up-and-coming to seasoned veterans ate, drank, tossed bowling balls, enjoyed catch-up conversations, shared jokes, won raffle prizes, played video games and more to a backdrop of rock and roll music, all for a worthy cause.
“Awesome! How can you beat great people, great food, great drink and bowling for a great cause,” commented Kenny Bozorgi, MD, Chicago, IL, after winning a Barbour briefcase in the raffle drawing. This evening was all about raising money for the ERF, the benevolent arm of the AHJF. It was established to provide emergency financial support to individuals in the show hunter and jumper sport suffering from an incapacitating illness, catastrophic accident or injury. The Board of the AHJF reviews emergency situations and makes a determination in accordance with the need. The money to fund this program comes from private gifts, WCHR member events, horse shows willing to encourage exhibitors to make a contribution and dedicated fundraising events such as “Bowling for Equestrians.”
“I love it because it is friends getting together, enjoying each other’s company and doing it for a great cause,” commented Gerry Briggs. Over the past 12 years the AHJF has distributed close to $500,000 through its ERF.
Another Great Bowling for Equestrians
The seed that grew into this fundraising venture was planted by Katie Robinson, who chairs the event and is an AHJF Board Member; Katie was there with family and friends. “I thought this year was a great year – maybe our best yet – the turnout and the energy is refreshing. I am really proud and I am so happy that because of the Emergency Relief Fund we are able to help so many people. The more we raise the more people we can help and the larger amount of money we can give. So, it is great,” commented Katie.
The AHJF collected close to $32,000 at the door and future recipients might be those facing a life threatening illness or the devastation left behind from a fire. It could be Mother Nature destroying a building or the pains suffered from an equestrian accident. If it is someone in need the AHJF’s ERF is there to step in and help. “This is so much fun,” commented raffle winner Carrie Gunst after she won a stuffed dog.
That word “fun” was repeated when Charlotte Jacobs won a stuffed frog. Lida Salas commented, “It’s good because it helps people,” as she held her tumblers, donated by Tervis Tumbler. Tiny Reilly Gogul didn’t say much as she held a purple sweater, which she selected from the table of prizes, but her big smile was all about having a great time. Charlotte Currey held a new crop as she commented, “I have a great time bowling and I love all the games.”
At the end of the evening a number of awards were given to special winners.
The Largest Group award was given to Derbydown. Most Stylish Bowler was Kayla Brusie. Cutest Bowler was Maggie Robinson. Most Creative Bowling Shirt was worn by Geoff Teall’s farm and was titled Pair O Dice. Kit Miller won the Lowest Scoring Vet award.
A special thank you goes to others in attendance including a variety of people from both the hunter and jumper worlds. In addition to those already mentioned were Christian’s parents Agneta and Brownley Currey and other family members Stephanie and John Ingram. A number of barns were also present, including AHJF Vice President Louise Serio’s Derbydown (PA), former AHJF President Geoff Teall’s Montoga (FL), Rush and Caroline Weeden’s Brookwood Farm (IL), Paula Watters’ Wattership Downs (OH), Jeremy Jacob’s Deeridge Farm (NY), Heritage Farm (NY), Keeley and Jeff Gogul’s Flagship Ltd. (OH); Lynn and Silas Jayne’s Our Day Farm (IL), and Charles Moorcroft Inc. (FL). Many of the WEF vendors supported the event with the donation of some wonderful raffle items. Some of those vendors arrived at the door to try their hand at bowling including Carrie Gunst (Personalized Products, WI) and Clare Holahan (Ann K Hubbard’s Tack Shop, IL).
The AHJF was formed in 1992 to further the development of the equestrian sport of show hunter rider competition by providing a national office to organize, coordinate and support hunter rider competition. Other programs of the AHJF include the World Championship Hunter Rider Awards. The AHJF also hosts the AHJF Hunter Classic Spectacular in Florida (February 20, 2010), and the AHJF WCHR Professional Finals (October 8, 2010 in Upper Marlboro, MD).
For more information or to make a tax donation to the AHJF Emergency Relief Fund to help fellow horsemen, call the AHJF at 508-835-8813, email AHJF@earthlink.net, visit their web site: www.ahjf.org or write: AHJF Relief Fund, PO Box 369, West Boylston, MA 01583. To see pictures from the 2010 Bowling for Equestrians go to: http://www.presslinkpr.com/gallery2/main.php?g2_itemId=172124.
All photos courtesy of Diana DeRosa.