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The AHJF's 2nd Annual Bowling for Equestrians Fundraises $45,000 for Relief Fund!

February 19, 2008 – Lake Worth, FL -- “What a fun evening,” commented grand prix rider and the event’s Best Male Bowler Mark Leone. He was one of the over 300 people who took part in the American Hunter-Jumper Foundation’s (AHJF) 2nd annual “Bowling for Equestrians.” The fundraiser was held at Greenacres Bowl in Lake Worth, FL, on Sunday evening, February 17th and raised a total of $45,000 for its AHJF Emergency Relief Fund (ERF).

The enthusiasm was electrifying and it didn't matter if you guttered the ball or hit a strike. There were elegant ballerina swings and balls carefully placed and pushed down the lane by a mixed group of happy participants. The family enthusiasm ignited the place and a backdrop of rock and roll music kept bodies in motion even in between throws. Not even the heavy downpours which synched themselves to the 6:30 start could dampen the enthusiasm of this energized crowd who were having and throwing a ball for a truly worthy cause.

The theme for the evening seemed to be sharing non-horsey fun with horse enthusiasts. Families, friends, groups, barns and individuals from teensy weensy tots to seasoned veterans ate, drank, tossed bowling balls, won raffle prizes, played video games and more.

Best of all was the goal to raise 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.”

Over the past 11 years the AHJF has distributed close to $300,000 through its ERF.

The founder of “Bowling for Equestrians” was Chair and AHJF Board Member, Katie Robinson, who also took part in the fun with her barn.

As people arrived they were handed raffle tickets and t-shirts and donned with wristbands. They put on their bowling shoes and immediately started tossing the colorful balls.

“We are having a lot of fun with our barn and I like that all the horseback riding people can see each other outside the show.” commented raffle winner Lizzie Stickney, Indianapolis, IN, who was with MeadowView Farms.

“It's fun that there are a lot of people and it's a great fundraiser to help the horse people,” remarked Alicia Hepron, West Palm Beach, FL, from Fairmount Farm.

Kevin Watts, Nashville, TN, who was there with River Circle Farms, was probably the most excited raffle winner. Watts, who has only been on a horse once, won a lesson with noted Olympic Gold Medalist, Joe Fargis. “This is so much fun and a nice mix between young and old. It's going to be a good experience getting to ride with Joe. I’m so excited!”

Charlotte Jacobs, East Aurora, NY, from Deeridge Farm, whose raffle ticket won her "The Power to Win" book was enjoying herself as well. “You get to hang out with all your horse friends and bowl,” she explained.

Avery Waite, Bronxville, NY, had so much fun last year that she was back again. “My friends are here and I got a strike!” Her friend, Grace Robinson, also from Bronxville nodded adding, “I like it. I get to see all my buddies.”

Leone agreed with all these comments and further added, “It is fun to do stuff out of people's elements but the competitiveness of these people was still there. They are not happy with just a couple down.”

Even Victoria Watters-LeBlond had a great time and it was her kids who told her the good news. “Being legally blind and getting a strike was pretty cool,” she said. Victoria won the Best Female Bowler award.

The happy winners of the Best Dressed award were members of Skyland Farm, Upperville, VA. Mike Smith, Winchester, VA, shared in that victory noting, “It's a wonderful family event. We are having a great time. It's nice to get away from the barn and be able to celebrate somewhere else.”

A special thank you goes to the Social and Junior Committees, who helped encourage individuals and barns to support this worthy cause. Members of these committees include Carol Cone, Bruce Duchossoiss, Chris Ewanouski, Stephanie & John Ingram, Kim & Charlie Jacobs, Joan & Louis Jacobs, Louise Serio, Emily & Ken Smith, Geoff Teall, Kim Tudor, Tom Wright, Melissa & Charlotte Jacobs, Phoebe & Grace Robinson, Spencer Smith, Allison & Ashley Toffolon, and Avery Waite.

Many of the Committee members attended as well as a variety of people from both the hunter and jumper worlds. In addition to those already mentioned were jumper riders Christian Currey (and his mom Agneta), Jimmy and Danielle Torano, Rodrigo Pessoa and hunter rider and trainer Sandy Ferrell are just a few of the many. A number of barns were also present, including AHJF Vice President Louise Serio’s Derbydown, AHJF President Geoff Teall’s Montoga, S. Craig Lindner’s All Seasons Farm, and the Jacobs’ Family’s Deeridge Farm.

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, AHJF Educational Programs, the AHJF BSA Inc. 401k and Profit Sharing Plan. The AHJF also hosts the AHJF Hunter Classic Spectacular in Florida (February 23, 2008), the Legacy Cup (May 7-18, 2008, Lexington, KY) and the AHJF WCHR Professional Finals (October 3, 2008 in Upper Marlboro, MD).

When the concept of a bowling event was first introduced, there was concern that there might not be enough interest for something that did not have a horse focus. Yet, in the end, that same reason is why it’s become an overwhelming success.

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: http://www.ahjf.org or write: AHJF Relief Fund, PO Box 369, West Boylston, MA 01583. To see pictures from this evening’s festivities go to: http://www.presslinkpr.com/gallery2/main.php?g2_itemId=63969.


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