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USET Foundation "Hong Kong by Night" Olympic Benefit Raises $500,000

WELLINGTON, FL - February 12, 2008 - The United States Equestrian Team (USET) Foundation has announced that "Hong Kong by Night," a benefit held on February 8, 2008, at International Polo Club in Wellington, Florida, raised $500,000. Generous supporters contributed to the effort by purchasing tables for the dinner and by bidding on three once-in-a-lifetime trip packages in a live auction. Proceeds from the evening will benefit the U.S. equestrian teams competing in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games.

A sold-out event, Hong Kong by Night drew 430 guests comprised of equestrian athletes, supporters, and friends. As equestrian competition at the 29th Olympiad will be held in Hong Kong, themes of the host city pervaded the party. Guests were invited to dress in 'Festive Oriental Attire' and extraordinary Hong Kong-themed decor created by Renny & Reed of New York City transformed the venue into a showcase of Hong Kong highlights, including an impressive entry lined in towering live bamboo and a dining room replete with 'starlit' drapery and a spectacular backlit skyline mural of the city of Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong by Night program included a cocktail hour, welcome remarks and presentations led by USET Foundation President Jane Forbes Clark, a three-course dinner by Ken-Rose Catering, a live auction, and dancing to the Michael Carney Orchestra.

President Clark opened the evening by first thanking the Hong Kong by Night committee members and Honorary Chairwoman, Abigail Wexner. Contributors to the evening's gift bags were also acknowledged, including the Hong Kong Tourism Board, Jacquie Mars and Ethel M Chocolates, Jaylaan Ahmad-Llewellyn and bluhammock, and Dr. Frederic Brandt Skin Care Products. Clark thanked Murray Kessler for donating the evening's fine wines from UST's Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.

President Clark segued to the evening's celebration of the USET Foundation's long-time supporters, saying, "Over the past 50 years, our equestrian Olympians have created a legacy of competitive excellence for the United States at the Olympic Games. At this time, I'd like to recognize some of the USET Foundation's most loyal and generous supporters - the members of our Gold Medal Club. You are an essential source of our support, and we offer our heartfelt thanks." Gold Medal Club members in attendance who joined Clark on stage to receive their gifts of appreciation were Schuyler Riley on behalf of her parents, Tom and Nephele Domencich, and Ellen Van Dyke Holtgers, celebrating 10-year anniversaries; Louise Otten, and Joe and Kathy Patton, celebrating 15-year anniversaries; and Carlene C. Blunt, celebrating a 25-year anniversary.

Highlighting the evening were the presentations of two of the USET Foundation's most prestigious annual awards - the Lionel Guerrand-Hermes Award and the Whitney Stone Cup. Joining Clark to present the Hermes Award were George H. Morris, U.S. Show Jumping Chef d'Equipe, and Bill Whitehead, the Equestrian Sales Manager for Hermes. The recipient of the Hermes Award was 19-year-old show jumper Hillary Dobbs, who capped a successful debut year in Grand Prix by notching double clear rounds in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to secure a Nations' Cup win in her first international competition. Dobbs made an eloquent acceptance speech thanking her parents and trainers. Joining Clark to present the Whitney Stone Cup was Brownlee O. Currey, Jr., Senior Vice President of the USET Foundation. The recipient of the Whitney Stone Cup was driver Miranda Cadwell, an Individual Gold and Team Bronze medalist at the 2007 Pony World Championships. Cadwell thanked her coaches and family for years of support and encouragement.

Clark concluded with two Special Recognition notations. Clark first thanked Richard Malloch, the President of Hearst Business Media, who provided the USET Foundation with the opportunity to participate in a fundraising initiative in the February issue of Town & Country magazine. With Malloch's efforts, the special section raised over $200,000 to help support U.S. high performance equestrian athletes. Malloch was in attendance and stood for an enthusiastic round of applause. Clark next thanked Peggy Phelps, noting, "The road to Hong Kong began in Pasadena on New Year's Day when 12 of our Olympic riders rode in the Tournament of Roses Parade - we never would have been there without Peggy Phelps. It was Peggy's idea, it was Peggy's hard work with the Tournament of Roses Parade Committee that led to our invitation to participate in the parade, and it was her kindness, her sense of humor, and her hospitality that made our two days in Pasadena absolutely sensational." Mason Phelps accepted the gift of appreciation for his mother.

Wrapping up the evening's opening remarks, Clark introduced Monica Chen, Director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, and Michael Lim, the Manager of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, who gave an energetic two-minute presentation on the fabulous city of Hong Kong and the amenities visitors to the Olympic Games had in store for them, including 10,000 restaurants!

Guests enjoyed a wonderful dinner catered by Ken-Rose Catering before focusing on the evening's fundraising highlight - the live auction. Auctioneer Tony Coppola led the bidding on three luxury trips: a Five-Star Olympic Games Package donated by Karen Lancaster and Cross Country International; a VIP Kentucky Derby Package donated by Wilhelmina McEwan, Tammy and Jerry Barber of Moxie Equestrian, and Fenwick Farm; and a Macau High Rollers' Luxury Package donated by Mark and Lindsay Harms. The high bidders for the packages were Carol Cohen (Olympic Package) and Hunter Harrison (Macau Package). The bidding was so intense for the Kentucky Derby Package that a duplicate was offered, with the two packages ultimately going to Dennis Dammerman and Tami Hoag. The auction bids totaled $111,000.

Dessert and dancing to the Michael Carney Orchestra capped off the evening with festive flair.

"The success of Hong Kong by Night was truly beyond our expectations in both attendance and contributions," said USET Foundation Executive Director Bonnie B. Jenkins. "I am grateful to our committee members, contributors, and attendees for their support and generosity. It was a beautiful event, everyone had fun, and our fundraising efforts got a terrific start for a big year in 2008."

The non-profit United States Equestrian Team Foundation supports the competition, training, coaching, travel and educational needs of America's elite and developing international, high-performance athletes and horses in partnership with the United States Equestrian Federation. For more information about the USET Foundation or to make a donation, please call (908) 234-1251 or visit the USET Foundation website at http://www.uset.org.



PHOTO CAPTION: Gold Medal Club Honorees: Joe Patton, Ellen Van Dyke Holtgers, USET Foundation President Jane Forbes Clark, Schuyler Riley on behalf of her parents, Tom and Nephele Domencich, Carlene Blunt, and Kathy Patton.

PHOTO CREDIT: 2008 Heather Caristo. This photo may only be used in relation to this press release.

 

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