WELLINGTON, FL – March 2, 2007 – “My participation for sure is directly related to the cause,” said Todd Minikus, world-class Grand Prix show jumper. “I want to help raise some money for a problem and an issue that I don’t think we can do enough for.”
Minikus is a member of Team USA Purina Mills at the upcoming PhelpsSports.com Challenge of the Americas presented by Collecting Gaits Farm, the annual fundraiser for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). The event will be held on March 10 at International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, Florida.
“It really doesn’t make a difference in my mind whether the horses jump or the horses piaffe, we’re all in the horse industry for the love of the animal and we’re very lucky that we’re able to participate in this event,” Minikus emphasized. “I have a good friend, Sandy Ferrell, who I consider to be the premier hunter rider in the country, and just last year she had a full mastectomy. It was a very scary thing. They have it under control but only a few months ago we were all very concerned.”
In addition to the opportunity to help raise money for breast cancer research, Minikus is also looking forward to the excitement and fun of the event, which geared for spectators and drew more than 1,600 fans last year. Always the competitor, Minikus grinned and threw down his gauntlet, saying, “One thing I’m sure of is that in the Challenge of the Americas, the United States of America is going to whip ‘em!”
A total of 30 horses and riders on the three teams will compete for the title of “PhelpsSports Challenge Team of the Americas.” The teams are comprised of eight dressage riders and two show jumpers. The dressage riders will perform in two Grand Prix musical freestyle formats – the Pas de Deux (two horses and riders) and the quadrille (six horses and riders). The show jumpers will compete in a high jump format. This year’s PhelpsSports Challenge team members are:
Team USA Purina Mills - Dressage Riders: Betsy Steiner, George Williams, Lynda Alicki, Pamela Goodrich, Chris Hickey, Susan Jaccoma and Tami Hoag; Show Jumpers: Todd Minikus and Candice King.
Team Can/Am SSG Gloves - Dressage Riders: Shannon Dueck, Chris Von Martels, Denielle Gallagher, Tina Irwin, Jaimey Irwin, Daphne Haagmans, Lisette Milner, and Suzanne Dansby Phelps; Show Jumpers: Eric Lamaze and Ainsley Vince.
Team International Morgan Stanley - Dressage Riders: Marco Bernal, Patrick Burssens, Silke Rembacz, Karen Lipp, Kathy Priest, Todd Flettrich, and Kelley Corrigan; Show Jumpers: Eric Flameng and Darragh Kerins.
Dressage rider Betsy Steiner on Team USA Purina Mills has participated in the BCRF fundraiser since 2002, when it was a three-horse Pas de Trois exhibition at a luncheon held at the Palm Beach Dressage Derby in Loxahatchee, Florida. Steiner relishes the opportunity to work with her fellow horsemen to raise money for the BCRF. “I think it’ s a fabulous opportunity for riders to stick together!” Steiner enthused. “Lynda Alicki, Patrick Burssens and I started this with Mary Ross six years ago. When she first told me about it I thought ‘what a great, great opportunity for us to get together as riders doing something that we love dearly, that’s very close to us, to benefit people that can contribute to research for breast cancer!’ It’s a chance for riders to show that we want to do more, that we want to give.”
Steiner is enthusiastic about the new format this year that includes jumpers on the teams, stating, “It’s fabulous. The more people that get involved and the more people that come see what the riders are doing for good causes is a fantastic idea. It will be so much fun to have the jumpers there. I’m glad they’re doing it.”
Helping raise funds for breast cancer research resounds on a personal level of Steiner as well. “I have several friends that are survivors and their stories have been so inspiring,” Steiner said. “It’s interesting because their stories also involve horses and the whole healing process of how the horse helps them through that process. When there are difficulties, the horses are a healing kind of a place in their lives even though they are going through extremely difficult times. They are very near and dear people to me that are really quite stellar in what they are going through and the horses are equally as stellar in helping them get through it.”
Canadian Grand Prix dressage rider Shannon Dueck on Team Can/Am SSG Gloves is thrilled with the opportunity to help the BCRF and ride in the Challenge for the third year. “I’m participating in the Challenge of the Americas because I don’t have a lot of money to give, so I absolutely love the idea of having this opportunity to contribute to this cause,” Dueck said. “By participating in the Challenge, I feel that I can do something for breast cancer research and have a good time too, I have fun while doing this!”
Dueck is looking forward to having jumpers on her team this year. “I think it’s fabulous. The more people we get interested in it, the better.”
Dueck also has a very personal link to the BCRF this year. “When I did it the first year, I didn’t know anybody close with breast cancer. Unfortunately now two very good friends from University that are my age have breast cancer,” she explained. “So I feel grateful that I can do something that may help them and for sure it will help more people like them.”
Having watched the event grow over the years, Dueck is expecting even bigger crowds and more fun for the 2007 event. “We have a really great time. We have fun in the practices and we have fun in the performances,” she said. “I’m so happy that so many people come out and watch it!”
Canadian Eric Lamaze, a Grand Prix show jumper, will join Dueck on Team Can/Am SSG Gloves. Lamaze has never seen the event and is participating for the first time. He is pleased to have been one of the jumpers selected to compete and gratified to have the opportunity to jump for the BCRF. “It sounded like a very good charity to support. We, as riders, sometimes forget to do good deeds, so I’m happy about this opportunity,” Lamaze said. He also likes the idea of dressage and show jumpers getting together for a cause and to create a great event for the spectators. “It’s great to have both disciplines for people to watch!” he enthused.
Colombia’s Marco Bernal, a Grand Prix dressage rider on Team International Morgan Stanley, is riding in the PhelpsSports Challenge for the third consecutive year, and said that even though he does not personally know anyone with breast cancer, he is participating to help the cause. “I ride in this event because I want to help the Breast Cancer Research Foundation raise some money,” he said. “I like the idea of including two equestrian disciplines this year because that will draw more people to the event. I’m very, very happy to participate.”
Darragh Kerrins, a show jumper from Ireland, is also a member of Team International Morgan Stanley and is happy to participate in the PhelpsSports for the first time and pleased at the opportunity to help the BCRF. “I think the Challenge is a great idea,” Kerrins related in his charming Irish brogue. “This is a great opportunity to do something for charity. It’s a great cause and I’m all for it!”
Kerrins is excited about the spectator and competition aspects of the PhelpsSports Challenge and noted, “I heard about the Challenge having a big attendance the past couple of years and then when I was told there would be high jump competition, I was thrilled when I was asked to do it. There aren’t that many high jump competitions in America so I’m glad to have the opportunity to do something like that.”
Kerrins is also pleased about the show jumpers and dressage riders getting together for a cause and pointed out, “It should happen more often – it’ a great opportunity.”
2007 Challenge Gala Sold Out! General Admission Tickets Still Available!
Last year, the event drew more than 1,600 fans. Over 600 patrons attended the sell-out gala following the competition, which included dinner, dancing, and a live auction. This year, the Challenge Gala has also sold out in advance, but General Admission tickets are still available. For the 2007 event, spectators can purchase the $20 General Admission tickets at the gate on the night of the event and will be seated in the special Tier Seating overlooking the competition ring. Food and beverages will be available in the Tier Seating, catered by International Polo Club Palm Beach.
PhelpsSports.com Challenge of the Americas Presented by Collecting Gaits Farm
SCHEDULE OF FESTIVITIES
5:30 p.m. Patrons and Sponsors
Cocktails and Hors D'oeuvres
Sponsored by Fidelity Federal Bank & Trust
6:00 p.m. The PhelpsSports.com Challenge of the Americas
Team High Jump, Pas de Deux, Quadrilles
8:00 p.m. Awards
8:15 p.m. Patrons and Sponsors
Dinner and Dancing
GENERAL ADMISSION TICKET INFORMATION
General Admission Tickets: General Admission Tickets for the competition will be available at the gate for $20 per ticket on the night of the event. General Admission ticket holders will be seated in the special Tier Seating overlooking the competition. Food and beverages will be available in the Tier Seating, catered by International Polo Club Palm Beach.
For more information about the 2007 PhelpsSports.com Challenge of the Americas presented by Collecting Gaits Farm, visit http://www.challengeoftheamericas.com
“PhelpsSports Challenge” Sponsors
Collecting Gaits Farm
United States Dressage Federation
Play for P.I.N.K. (Prevention, Immediate Diagnosis, New Technology, Knowledge
Fidelity Federal Bank & Trust
King Ferry Winery
Cunningham & Cunningham Livestock, Inc.
UBS Financial Services Inc.
International Polo Club Palm Beach
Palm Beach Equine
Red Barn Feed & Supply
Van Dell Jewelers
PHOTO CAPTION: Eric Lamaze will compete on Team Can/Am SSG Gloves at the 2007 PhelpsSports.com Challenge of the Americas on March 10.
PHOTO CREDIT: Kenneth Kraus.
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/challenge-america-breast-cancer-research-3-07.html">Riders Help Breast Cancer Research Foundation at Challenge of the Americas</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com