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Sponsors Return in Full Force for 2009 Challenge of the Americas

WELLINGTON, FL - January 27, 2009 - Sponsors of the Challenge of the Americas Presented by International Polo Club Palm Beach have returned in full force to support this year's event, which will be held on March 7, 2009, at International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, FL. The Challenge, in its eighth consecutive year as an annual fundraiser for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, showcases equestrian sport and features a gala dinner/dance.

"With all the news in the media about recession, inflation, and economic downturns, I was grateful to find that none of that bad news affected our sponsors for this year's Challenge," beamed Mary Ross, founder and co-chair of the event. "All of our sponsors for the myriad of amenities that make the Challenge so extraordinary are back. We even have a new presenting sponsor in International Polo Club, which makes a huge difference in our budget because they are hosting the event. We're introducing a unique new program that will be a surprise and a very entertaining evening. I'm looking forward to breaking new records in attendance and fundraising for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation this year!"

International Polo Club - "Equestrians Do the Right Thing"

The Challenge has drawn more than 1,600 spectators and hosted 600-plus for the sold-out Challenge Gala in previous years at International Polo Club. John Wash, President of Club Operations at International Polo Club Palm Beach, believes that the equestrian community will continue that support for 2009.

"Sure it's a different economy," Wash acknowledged, "but what I've seen with the equestrian community is that they are a community and they do rally around worthwhile charities and causes. Whether they're polo enthusiasts or the show jumping and dressage group, even the weekend warrior, it seems that equestrians go out and tackle things with a strong passion and purpose. Because The Challenge supports breast cancer research, it is the type of event that regardless of the economy, equestrians will step forward and do what's right during this time."

International Polo Club hosted The Challenge in 2006 and 2007, and Walsh is thrilled that the club is able to sponsor and host The Challenge for 2009. "I am really happy to have this event back at International Polo Club," Wash enthused. "The venue really speaks for itself, as does the layout of the fields for the viewing of this exciting event. We're looking forward to it!"

Purina Mills - "Support Research and Our Female Customer Base"

Purina Mills has sponsored Team USA at The Challenge since 2007 and the company is back in full support for 2009. Dr. Mary Beth Gordon, Director of Research and New Product Development for Purina Mills for the Horse Business Group at Land O'Lakes Purina Mills, pointed out that her company's support has not wavered.

"In times like this, certainly people can think, 'Let's just take care of our own needs first and our immediate needs for our company', which may cause some companies to decrease or cut out charitable giving or charitable sponsorships," Dr. Gordon noted, adding, "And that's certainly not how we have felt about our support of breast cancer research and the Challenge of the Americas at Purina Mills. The reason we are definitely involved in the event is to help support breast cancer research. In current economic times, it's even more important to support those events that are important to us. The Challenge requires charitable giving to help keep it going."

Dr. Gordon noted that The Challenge also provides Purina Mills with the opportunity to directly support its customers. "As a horse feed company, we know that most of our customers are female-based," Dr. Gordon said. "So helping to support breast cancer research in turn helps us to support our customer - the female rider who is taking care of her horse and riding and wanting to maintain a healthy lifestyle."

Team Purina Mills USA won the Challenge of the Americas title in 2007 and 2008.

"It's fun for us that we get to support breast cancer research through the Challenge of the Americas because it's just awesome to work with the riders - to see them put on the quadrilles and the demonstrations and the competition - and attend the gala dinner and the dancing," Dr. Gordon said. "That is great fun, but it comes secondary to our initiative to help support breast cancer research. We're glad that we're able to do that through the Challenge of the Americas."

Team International The Seley Parker Group of Merrill Lynch - "Take Your Mind Off Your Portfolio!"

Josh Parker and Rex Seley of The Seley Parker Group of Merrill Lynch are once again sponsoring Team International at The Challenge.

"Obviously it's been a challenging environment for everybody economically, but we feel it's still important to be philanthropic," stated Josh Parker, Wealth Management Advisor for The Seley Parker Group of Merrill Lynch. "The folks that are in need are feeling it even more than regular folks, so it's very important to stay in the charity mode. I know some people have to scale back in their philanthropic effort, but we feel it's important to support not only breast cancer research but also other types of ailments that people have, as well as the needy, whether it's Boys and Girls Clubs or other charities. They need support even more than the people that are suffering just because their stock portfolios are down!"

The Seley Parker Group (formerly of Morgan Stanley) has sponsored Team International since 2007. Parker is looking forward to a third consecutive year of enjoying a brilliant night in Wellington.

"The Challenge is a great spectacle and a night that will take our minds off of any recessionary thoughts," Parker said. "It's obviously a great event because of the dressage and the dancing and the food. It's just fun! It's a great show. The talented riders and the festivities are a blast. It would be a good night to take your mind off your investment portfolio!"

SSG Gloves - "The Need Is Still Great"

Ed James, founder and president of SSG Gloves, sponsored Team Can/Am SSG Gloves in 2007 and 2008 and returns this year to support the 2009 Challenge.

"It's not a down economy for the equestrian industry in my opinion," James said. "93% of the people in the U.S. are working and the 7% that aren't working, most of them are not horse owners. Breast cancer research is in as much of a need this year as it was last year and the years before. Because the media says it's a down economy, I'm not backing off anything that I'm doing. You've got to focus on the need. I support a lot of causes. When people come to me, I say if the need still is great, then the support is still great."

James noted that it is 'business as usual' for SSG Gloves, including advertising, sponsorships, and support of charitable giving. "I'm always positive in these situations," James said. "I'll spend as much on advertising this year as I did the year before. In my case, regardless of what's going on, whether it's snowing or raining, or hurricanes, the need is still there for certain fundraising activities. You can't guess when the economic cycle's going to turn, so if you're supporting a great event like the Challenge of the Americas, then stay in because the need to help support breast cancer research is still there."

Hampton Green Farm - "Values, Priorities, and Staying Committed to the Cause"

Kimberly Boyer, owner of Hampton Green Farm, returns for the second consecutive year as sponsor of the Challenge Gala. Boyer, who has attended every edition of The Challenge since 2002, is a long-time member of the Challenge Committee. For 2009, Kim and her husband Frederic Boyer will serve as Honorary Chairs of The Challenge.

"During these times, people are not only re-thinking their budgets, but they're also re-thinking their values and their priorities," Boyer pointed out. "That's going to benefit charitable organizations like the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. People are getting in touch again with what their real values are and what's important to put your money into."

Boyer noted that having The Challenge in the equestrian community of Wellington provides a unique opportunity for women to be involved in two of their passions - breast cancer research and horses. "Breast cancer is generally a woman's affliction, so women are passionate about fundraising to support research that seeks a cure for this disease," Boyer said. "In Wellington, women are also very passionate about their horses and the equestrian lifestyle. The Challenge involves all of those passions - supporting breast cancer research and providing a connection to the horses and the equestrian community."

Boyer remains as committed and enthusiastic about supporting her eighth event in 2009 as she has been for every Challenge since 2002. "Staying committed to The Challenge is definitely worthwhile," Boyer said. "It's important to stay committed to the things you were committed to last year or in better times. Don't give up on those things, because the problem hasn't gone away. Even though our financial situations may have all changed, the need for more breast cancer research hasn't gone away."

Cunningham & Cunningham - "Celebrate a Joyous Night"

Cunningham & Cunningham Livestock Insurance, Inc. has been the official insurer of The Challenge since its inaugural event in 2002 and proudly returns for the eighth consecutive year in 2009.

"It's not so much on a business level that I sponsor The Challenge - it's on a personal level that I'm a sponsor because I think it's such a great cause," states Tom Cunningham, founder and partner in his insurance company. "It's really important that we support things like this because breast cancer is such a terrible disease. It's true that 'the outside of a horse is good for the inside of a person' - and that association holds true for The Challenge, tying in horses with supporting breast cancer research."

Cunningham notes that the bottom line for the 2009 Challenge of the Americas Presented by International Polo Club Palm Beach is to celebrate a wonderful event in support of an important cause. "Everyone should come and just enjoy it," Cunningham said. "It's such a joyous night for such a good cause."

2009 Challenge of the Americas - Ticket and Table Reservations

The 2009 Challenge of the Americas Presented by International Polo Club Palm Beach will be held on Saturday night, March 7, 2009, at International Polo Club Palm Beach in Wellington, FL. To make reservations for the Challenge Gala, VIP Box Seats, and General Admission Tickets, contact Mary Ross at 561-852-2591.



PHOTO CAPTION: (l-r) 2008 Challenge of the Americas Winner - Team Purina Mills USA riders Chris Hickey, Betsy Steiner, Lynda Alicki, Susan Jaccoma, Pamela Goodrich, and Bent Jensen with Carlos E. Munoz, Account Manager/Equine Specialist for Purina Mills. PHOTO CREDIT: Susan Stickle. This photo may be used free of charge only in relation to this press release.

 

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