WELLINGTON, Fla.--With over 500 guests enjoying an elegant dinner, dancing, awards presentations and a lively auction in a beautifully decorated tent at the International Polo Club in Wellington at a benefit entitled Triumph in Tryon hosted by the USET, over a half million dollars was raised for the USET Foundation.
Triumph in Tryon was co-chaired by USET Foundation President and CEO Jim McNerney and wife Haity on Friday, Jan. 19.
The tent was decorated as a festive woodland wonderland, representing the mountainous region of Tryon, N. C., where this year's WEG will be held, and included an exquisite dinner.
USET Foundation executive director Bonnie Jenkins and the gala committee members all helped organize the highly successful event.
The evening began with a cocktail hour generously sponsored by Taylor Harris Insurance Services from 6–7 p.m. when guests were invited to make their way to the elaborately decorated tent for dinner and to begin the evening’s program.
Brian Lookabill served as Master of Ceremonies, and McNerney delivered the keynote address, closing with a tribute to Bill Steinkraus, who passed away in Nov. 2017, and his impact on the sport with a beautiful video montage of his accomplishments and highlights from his outstanding equestrian career.
DURING THE awards ceremony, Jennifer Gates, 21 of Medina, Wash., received the Lionel Guerrand-Hermès Trophy, which is presented to a young rider in one of the Olympic disciplines who exemplifies both sportsmanship and horsemanship.
In 2017, Gates competed on her first Nations Cup team in Slovakia, won the $25,000 U.S. Open Hollow Creek Farm Under 25 Grand Prix at the Rolex Central Park Horse Show and the Under 25 National Championship and placed fourth in the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Lexington CSI4*-W at the National Horse Show.
McLain Ward of Brewster, N. Y., was awarded the Whitney Stone Cup, which is presented annually to an active competitor who displays consistent excellence in international competition and high standards of sportsmanlike conduct, while serving as an ambassador for the United States and equestrian sport and exemplifying the team’s highest ideals and traditions.
Olympic gold medalist and 2017 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Final champion, Ward helped the U.S. team win at some of the most prestigious international events, while his top mount, HH Azur, was also recognized for jumping clear in all U.S. team competitions throughout 2017.
The R. Bruce Duchossois Distinguished Trustee Award, was presented to Jane Forbes Clark.
The award is presented annually to a USET Foundation trustee who exemplifies exceptional leadership, philanthropy and character.
For almost four decades, Clark has been an active supporter of a number disciplines and has sought to help the U.S. achieve greatness in equestrian sports worldwide.
Clark served as the president and CEO of the USET Foundation for many years and has exemplified her generosity by the countless opportunities she has afforded U.S. athletes.
FOLLOWING the awards presentations, the USET Foundation gave the Harrison family with a special painting of Ward and HH Azur to honor and celebrate the life of USET Foundation trustee and owner of Double H Farm Hunter Harrison, who passed in away in December 2017.
Then auctioneer Jonathan Cuticelli revved up the crowd to begin the live auction, which helped raise money for U.S. equestrian teams competing at the 2018 WEG.
Auction items included an original oil painting and custom oil portrait by artist Sharon Lynn Campbell, a summer getaway to the “Thistle House” in Martha’s Vineyard, donated by Mr. and Mrs. William H. Weeks, the choice between three exclusive Rolex VIP sporting experiences, donated by Rolex Watch USA, three WEG VIP hospitality packages for eventing, dressage and show jumping, donated by the 2018 FEI WEG Organization, Mark and Katherine Bellissimo and the USET Foundation, and two box tickets to Springsteen on Broadway with meet-and-greet passes and goody bags, donated by Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa.
The evening concluded with dancing to music from the band Soul Survivors.