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Sweely Family Supports HEART Equine Ambulance and Helps to Plan Hoedown

Wellington, FL – January 22, 2007 – The Humane Equine Aid and Rapid Transport (HEART) Equine Ambulance is a very personal cause for many top equestrians. Robin Sweely and her parents, Sharon and Jess have been huge supporters of the HEART Ambulance both financially and through labor intensive organization.

Sweely became aware of the need for a horse ambulance when she lost a horse to colic after a delay in treatment which might have saved his life. “I was at Devon showing, and my horse became violently ill,” Sweely recounted. “It took me over 90 minutes to find a truck to take us to New Bolton Center for surgery. I decided at that moment that I would never go to another show without my own trailer and truck,” she said.

Many people do not have the resources to have a truck and trailer of their own, and the parking at some shows makes it a logistical nightmare. “The year after I lost my horse I returned to the Devon show and noticed that there was a horse ambulance there,” Sweely remembered. “I watched them start up the dilapidated truck and it lurched and billowed smoke.” The original HEART Ambulance was a two horse trailer owned and operated by Mary Strauz with help from her friend Jill Parsons. Strauz had her trailer retrofitted to be the emergency vehicle for the Atlanta Olympic Games in 1996. After the Olympics, Strauz, along with help from Parsons, operated the ambulance on her own and provided service at local horse shows. The friends manned the trailer for four years alone and with little financial backing.

“I decided after speaking with Debbie Stephens that the ambulance was a necessary evil and that Strauz needed a reliable vehicle to pull it,” Sweely said. “My father always told me to find a cause that is important to me and support it. This mom and pop organization really struck a chord with me so I decided to help them as much as I could,” she added.

“Along with help from my parents, we leased a truck to HEART for $1 a year and told them that if they raised $25,000 toward the truck fund we would title it to them,” Sweely said. The Sweely family held the first HEART fundraising event called “Heart in the Caribbean” at their farm (Acorn Hill) in Wellington, FL. The event was underwritten by the family 100 percent and raised $78,000 for HEART, along with transfer of the vehicle title. The fundraiser allowed HEART to build a new-state-of-the art ambulance that took more than one year to design and finish.

The HEART Ambulance now services 25 shows a year and would like to add 15 more to its schedule. You can see the ambulance at all Stadium Jumping events, as well as other high profile shows such as the Hampton Classic. “We need build an awareness campaign of the services that HEART provides and try to get a second ambulance,” Sweely said. “We want to be at the World Equestrian Games in 2010, and we would like to diversify our services.”

In less than three weeks, there will be a fun packed, heel-stomping hoedown held at Palm Beach Polo Equestrian Club in the Special Events Pavilion to raise money for the equine ambulance. With everything from a mechanical bull Calcutta to square dancing, the HEART Hoedown will offer fun for the entire family.

“There are countless reasons to have a horse ambulance at shows,” Sweely explained. “Most exhibitors are unaware that transport is available to them 24 hours. If a horse is sick in the night, HEART will transport it to a clinic. The response time is usually under 30 minutes and can be life saving to competitors who travel commercially and do not have immediate help,” she added.

Please join HEART supporters to celebrate and support the Equine Ambulance at the 2007 HEART Hoedown. It is a casual and fun event full of horse enthusiasts who believe in the necessity of protecting equine athletes.

Fast Facts - HEART Hoedown Presented by Outback Steakhouse

When: Friday, February 9, 2007 7:00PM - 11:00 PM

What: Fundraiser for the Humane Equine Aid and Rapid Transport (HEART) Equine Ambulance, with cocktails, dinner, country western music and dancing

Event Chair: Caroline Moran

Dress: "Hoedown Country Casual"

Open seating tickets: $150/person

Premium tables of eight with sponsor benefits: $2,500 - $5,000 each

The Cause: Humane Equine Aid and Rapid Transport (HEART) Equine Ambulance has a state-of-the-art equine ambulance that allows HEART to respond to emergencies at events throughout the United States. Currently HEART provides services to some of the nation's top equestrian events.

Contact for tickets and sponsorship information:

HEART Equine Ambulance

PO Box 2661

Bonita Springs, FL 34133

Trish Zorn at (540) 948-3007 or Phelps Media Group at (561) 753-3389

HEART is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit and as such donations to HEART are tax-deductible as allowed by law. For more information about HEART see our website at http://www.equineambulance.com

PHOTO CREDIT: HEART Sharon, Jess and Robin Sweely. Photo courtesy of Lucern Photography.


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