West Palm Beach, Florida -- The inaugural SUCCEED®/Wellington Classic Dressage USET Foundation Holiday Gala raised $20,853 for the U.S. Equestrian Team. The fundraiser was held during the Dec. 11-13 Wellington Classic Dressage Holiday Challenge at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center. "We're ecstatic with how it went," said SUCCEED CEO John Hall. USET Foundation Executive Director Bonnie B. Jenkins expressed gratitude to Succeed and Wellington Classic Dressage for hosting the event saying that it was a great way to start the holiday season.
Events such as the USET Foundation Gala play an important role in helping the USET cover the costs of having U.S. teams compete in international competition and John Flanagan, sponsorship coordinator for Wellington Classic Dressage, said Wellington Classic Dressage was honored to play host. "We're happy to help the USET Foundation, especially when we can host an event that not only raises money for our equestrian team, but that is also a lot of fun for all," he said.
Hall said the gala event will help support the U.S. Equestrian Team during the 2010 Alltech World Equestrian Games. "And, it was a very successful event and also very fun," he said. "There was a wonderful comradeship that was established among the many competitors from all these different equestrian disciplines who attended. We must also credit the generosity of the many companies that provided products for the silent auction."
The USET Holiday Gala was sponsored by SUCCEED® and Wellington Classic Dressage. The event drew top riders from multiple equestrian disciplines, including Steffen Peters, Gina Miles, Kate Levy, Lynn Palm, Karen and David O'Connor, Monty Roberts and Chester Weber, who gave Santa (played by David O'Connor) a ride to the event in a horse-drawn carriage. Hall credited Lyndsey White, domestic and international product manager for SUCCEED®, with organizing the event. "It was her brainchild and was designed along the lines of the Olympia event in London that combines serious competition with fun," Hall said.
"The riders really had a lot of fun and they told me that it gave them a unique opportunity to interact with riders from other disciplines," White said. That interaction was something that Hall said he really enjoyed watching. "When you think about it, if you put together all the riders who attended they represented over 1,000 years of horse experience and they were all brought together by a common love for the horse," he said.
More than 20 riders participated in the event by performing numerous demonstrations that were designed to be both fun and educational and these included Lynn Palm's bridle-less demonstration, a vaulting demonstration by German champion Kai Vorberg and a fun Pas de Deux featuring Courtney King-Dye and Monty Roberts, who also served as auctioneer. Gina Miles and Hawley Bennett teamed up with the Alligator Creek and Ocala Pony Clubs to win the coveted USET Fundraiser Mounted Games Challenge. Even competitors got into the spirit during competition. Chris Curiger and Helios performed a fabulous and fun freestyle in Intermediaire I competition that was ridden to Christmas music. Adding to all the fun over the weekend was a VIP dinner and a shopping village.
Among attendees was Phelps Media Group president Mason Phelps, Olympic event rider Darren Chiacchia, Bruce Duchossois, USDF president George Williams, DressageDaily's Mary Phelps, Margaret Duprey and John Walsh, president of the International Polo Club. Collecting the check on behalf of the USET Foundation were dressage riders Arlene "Tuny" Page and Kimberly Van Kampen.
Because of the success of this year's fund-raising gala, White said SUCCEED® is already committed to supporting the Holiday Gala again next year and is hoping the event "grows year after year. We think our first year was hugely successful, but we expect it to get even better." She said a committee of volunteers has already come forward offering to help organize and promote next year's event. "So I expect it will be even bigger and better." To see photos of the event, visit www.succeedevent.com.