Women’s Empowerment A Key Focus For Polo Star, Entrepreneur & Model Ashley Busch

Women’s Empowerment A Key Focus For Polo Star, Entrepreneur & Model Ashley Busch

Ashley Van Metre Busch, a polo star, entrepreneur and model, has achieved global success at the young age of 27. Her career has come a long way from the first time she rode a horse at age 5 and immediately fell in love with everything about horses. Playing polo is a great way to combine her love for horses with her competitive nature, which she gets from her father and grandfather, who were sailboat racers.

As a bonus to loving polo, Busch also happens to be really good at the sport. She has reached great heights throughout her career with multiple defining moments, and she has solidified herself as one of the sport’s fiercest competitors.

Busch has played in renowned tournaments across the globe, from New York to Argentina, Chile, England, Florida and more. Notable victories include tournaments like the Port Mayaca 14-goal and the International Polo Club 12-goal, which she played with her father Beau. During the Hobe Sound 8-goal tournaments, Busch and her Altair team made it through the season undefeated. Currently, her team competes in tournaments in Wellington throughout the winter season.

As a member of the 2011 U.S. Eastern Circuit polo team, Busch competed against the British Forces/Combined Services polo teams in the historic Chapple Cup Series. The three-match series began at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, in which the teams battled for the Sudan Cup, the second match at the Tidworth Polo Club competing for the Indian Cavalry Officers Cup, and the final match at Guards Polo Club for the United Services Cup.

In addition to her on-field success, last year Busch was named the U.S. Polo Assn. female global brand ambassador. This allowed her to branch out into the modeling world, in which she has found great success.

Busch makes sure to not let her platform and reach go untouched, as she is an avid sponsor of women’s empowerment and equality, particularly in athletics. “My goal is to be a female face for polo as a sport and show women that they can do anything they put their minds to,” she said.

Busch preaches self-confidence and recognizes that polo is one of the few sports that allows both men and women to play on the same field together simultaneously. Because of this, she takes that opportunity to prove to the world that women can be just as successful as men in any sport, and she is always looking to break through the stereotypes.

Her time away from polo allows her to explore other passions in her life, such as fashion and philanthropy. She is coming out with her own swimwear line this year. The Beachy Chic collection is set to launch this spring, and she is expected to branch into other fashion fields in the near future. While the details are still being finalized, Busch has decided that 10 percent of the profits will be going to various charities around the world.

Her other charitable endeavors include hosting polo exhibitions like the Van Metre Polo Cup benefiting Capital Hospice and supporting the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, the Commonwealth Polo Cup, the National Sporting Library Polo Classic, Polo for a Purpose and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. She is also proud to be a part of the Van Metre 5-mile run, which benefits the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Busch’s ultimate goal is to create her own foundation and host charity events throughout the U.S. for various causes to pay it forward.

“From a young age, I was always taught the importance of giving back,” Busch said. “And it is my goal to pay it forward in whichever endeavors I am involved in, whether hosting charity polo events or through my swimwear and apparel line.”

In early 2017, she married NASCAR champion Kurt Busch. As a power couple of athletes, they both realize the danger that comes along with their chosen sports. “To be honest, you could get hurt just walking down the stairs,” Busch said. “You cannot let fear stop you from pursuing your passions. You have to live each day to the fullest.”

When asked about the inherent danger that comes with her husband’s profession, Busch noted that the NASCAR safety technology provided to drivers is incredible, and in all likelihood, that probably makes the sport safer than polo.

Busch has actually spent time in a stock car when she drove three laps in Las Vegas for fun. “You get out, and you feel like you can’t even walk. You feel like you’re floating,” she said. “I can’t imagine how these guys do it for 300, 400 laps.”

When they are not at the racetrack or the polo field, the newlyweds split their time at residences in Wellington and Mooresville, N.C.

Free time, which is at something of a minimum, is very important to Busch. During that time, she likes to stay fit, work out and just relax at home with her dogs and husband. Nights out are rare, since Ashley and Kurt usually just cook dinner at home and enjoy each other’s company there.

Busch advises those who travel and want to stay in shape to take time out of each day to do at least one thing, just as she does. From walking her dogs, doing sit-ups in the park or even going for a bike ride, she makes time to just keep active.

Learn more about Ashley Busch at www.ashleybusch.com.

Facebookpinterestmail

In Retirement, Roxanne Stein Puts Her Focus On Her Adopted Hometown Of Wellington

In Retirement, Roxanne Stein Puts Her Focus On Her Adopted Hometown Of Wellington

Along with providing the people of Palm Beach County with their news for nearly 25 years, Roxanne Stein has made her mark on the Wellington community, just as Wellington has made its mark on her.

From a young age, Stein knew that she wanted to work in the business of producing and delivering news. She vividly recalls growing up in Pennsylvania, watching the news on a black-and-white screen and aspiring to one day provide communities with the important news of the day.

“I loved that every night the news was different. Every night there was something new to follow,” Stein recalled. “I was only seven or eight, but I loved it. I started clipping out headlines from newspapers and making scrapbooks because I loved tracking what happened every day in life.”

After graduating from the Pennsylvania State University, Stein began her news career in her hometown of Lancaster, Pa. In 1993, she made the move south to West Palm Beach and became the news anchor known and loved by many on WPTV News Channel 5.

Stein, along with her co-anchor John Favole, became familiar faces in Palm Beach County.

For Stein, the most rewarding feeling of being responsible for delivering news — good or bad — to the people of the Palm Beaches was being able to be there for residents by providing necessary information.

“I have had so many great opportunities and covered many amazing stories, but what I really loved was being part of the community and part of people’s lives,” said Stein, who recently retired from her news anchor position. “It was important to me to embrace people around me, because it’s part of my personality to do so. I tried to deliver news [thinking] of the families and kids watching at home.”

After her 41-year news career, some recent events began to take a stronger toll on Stein. Hurricane Irma last year, for example, was harder for her than previous storms she covered.

“It was hard — sleeping at the station, being away from home and having my husband be home alone,” Stein said. “It’s the business, and I wouldn’t complain about it, but it was hard.”

Covering the news surrounding the Feb. 14 deadly school shooting in Parkland was also harder and more surreal for Stein.

“Parkland really got to me. Parkland is only an hour away, and it is so much like Wellington,” she said. “The stories of the kids and teachers who went to school just trying to make the world better and ended up dying really affected me. I got emotional about it, and there were a couple times on the air that I had to look away.”

The best stories Stein delivered were those about the people in the community who go out of their way to help others in need.

“There is so much good in this community, and there is so much being done by people who want to help each other and make a difference when it’s needed,” she said. “It is so important to tell the stories of what the community does for each other.”

After more than two decades at WPTV and much consideration, Stein left her anchor chair on March 30.

“I was very lucky to do what I wanted to do for 41 years and to [work] in the same place for 25 years,” she explained. “I really have been very fortunate to be part of a community that embraced me just as I embraced it. I also love the people I worked with at Channel 5, but I felt ready to be off such a hectic schedule. It just felt like the right time. I always wanted and planned to retire while I could still do things.”

She is excited about this new phase of her life and has no regrets about the timing.

“WPTV gave me a job for so long, and my job was great, but it was time to move on. People told me I would mourn my job, but I don’t think so,” Stein said. “I think if people have a lot of fun throughout life, they can continue to have a lot of fun when they are no longer working.”

Since her retirement, Stein has invested most of her energy into spending more time with her husband, Steve Moss, going on daily trail rides with her horse, Bamboo, riding her bicycle around town or playing tennis to stay active.

“Bamboo and I trail ride around Wellington every day and have a wonderful time,” said Stein, who has long enjoyed the equestrian aspects of her adopted hometown. “He’s a special horse, he loves what he does and loves taking care of me.”

She is thankful that her career left her financially secure, but noted that she has never been a big spender. “[My husband and I] live a very modest lifestyle,” Stein explained. “We bought a house 22 years ago, we still live in it, and we are not moving out of it.”

While she has retired from WPTV, she has clearly not retired from high-profile community roles. She was recently installed as the new president of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce.

With the chamber, Stein hopes to support Wellington businesses on a positive and prosperous path.

“With the chamber’s members and board, I want to help businesses become stronger and provide them with the tools they need to be profitable in the community,” she said. “Businesses make our community stronger. It is also important that we support our local businesses, our mom and pops.”

After taking a period of time to relax and enjoy a more laid-back schedule, Stein hopes to get even more involved in maintaining Wellington’s community.

“Wellington is a very special and significant place to me,” she said. “I love the community here, and I want to help keep Wellington as wonderful as it is. It is such a family place, and communities that embrace families, like Wellington does, are at the fiber of this country.”

Facebookpinterestmail

New Kaluz Restaurant Features A Fresh Look At New American Cuisine

New Kaluz Restaurant Features A Fresh Look At New American Cuisine

Kaluz Restaurant, an upscale dining experience serving New American cuisine, recently opened its doors for business in Wellington. Serving a full menu of classical New American entrées and offering a wide selection of wine to please any palate, General Manager Patrick O’Keefe aims to create and deliver a fresh and unique experience to the Wellington area.

Five years after the opening of its original location in Fort Lauderdale, Kaluz opened its new Wellington location late last month on Forest Hill Blvd. in front of the Mall at Wellington Green, creating a new setting perfect for locals to enjoy intimate lunches and dinners.

The restaurant is set to provide those in the Wellington area with an exceptional experience each time they visit. O’Keefe’s goal is to make sure that all those who dine at Kaluz feel relaxed, cared for and, of course, satisfied with their choice of dining experiences.

This, O’Keefe said, is one of the restaurant’s unique attributes that will set Kaluz apart in Wellington.

“We hope to provide a great food and service experience in a warm and friendly environment where every guest feels like they are the most important person in the building,” he said.

Wellington was a fitting community for Kaluz’s second branch, O’Keefe said, bringing a distinct new dining option to the area. The sleek, modern and clean-looking aesthetic of the building is inviting to diners looking for a restaurant to enjoy anything from a quiet romantic dinner to a comforting lunch with friends.

The restaurant’s success in Fort Lauderdale has earned Kaluz the reputation of a restaurant that people go all out for, dressing up in their best clothes and making an event out of their dining experience.

The Wellington restaurant will hold a total of 275 guests, with an open 45-table dining room, a 35-seat island bar and 15 tables on a covered outside seating area. Those dining at the restaurant will have views of calming waterfall features, the open-exhibition kitchen and the many architectural focal points throughout the facility. “Every seat in the restaurant has a view,” O’Keefe said.

Along with its standout environment, Kaluz provides a high-quality menu designed to satisfy the desires of most people. The menu duplicates Kaluz’s Fort Lauderdale menu, which includes daily featured dishes during every lunch and dinner.

Kaluz’s menu is highly influenced by the Fort Lauderdale location’s proximity to the water, which has resulted in a menu containing a wide range of skillfully designed seafood dishes.

“Because of Fort Lauderdale’s location, one out of every two plates leaving the kitchen is seafood generated,” O’Keefe explained.

Popular Kaluz appetizers include the smoked salmon dip, tuna tartare, sweet ginger calamari and chicken drum lollipops.

One of the restaurant’s most popular seafood dishes has been the Chilean sea bass. The plate consists of a hardwood-grilled nine-ounce portion of Chilean sea bass, served over a bed of sautéed asparagus, topped with sundried tomatoes and artichoke hearts and finished with a touch of citrus.

The dish, O’Keefe said, started out as a special featured item but was so popular and often requested that it was incorporated into the regular menu.

“It became one of our signature dishes,” he said.

Another popular plate is the scallops pomegranate. The scallops are pan-seared, paired with a mango compote and pomegranate reduction, and served with a chilled quinoa medley.

With its modern American theme, the restaurant serves a variety of other non-seafood entrée options, as well. The menu also features items ranging from different types of burgers, entrée salads, flatbreads, sandwiches and more.

“While the menu is seafood dominated, there are many options outside of the seafood realm,” O’Keefe explained.

One highly demanded item on the Kaluz menu is the lamb rack. The plate includes four New Zealand double-boned and herb-crusted lamb chops, served on a bed of shiitake polenta and heirloom carrots, finished with a balsamic pork reduction.

No matter what you order, you will not leave Kaluz wanting for more. “All of our entrees come with sides, and our dishes come in pretty large portions,” O’Keefe said.

Because a restaurant meal is not complete without dessert, the Kaluz menu lists a variety of warm and rich desserts to choose from, including a salted caramel brownie, bread pudding and key lime pie.

Chef Ian Carpenter fashions all of the menu items to perfection, aiming to cater to everyone individually, including those who have dietary restrictions, such as guests who require gluten-free meals or those who are vegetarian.

The bar offers, along with the extensive wine list featuring bottle or glass selections from across the world, 18 crafted cocktails, including mojitos, martinis and more, and a variety of scotches, cordials and cognacs to accompany dessert.

O’Keefe believes that Kaluz will please and satisfy the people of Wellington, just as it has been doing in Fort Lauderdale since 2013. He, and the restaurant’s 90-person staff, aim to provide visitors with an unforgettable experience that will keep them returning for more.

The new restaurant regularly serves lunch and dinner from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Happy hour is available from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Kaluz Restaurant is located at 2025 Wellington Green Drive just off Forest Hill Blvd. For more information, call (561) 784-5500 or visit www.kaluzrestaurant.com.

Facebookpinterestmail

Lakefront Olympia Home Features Many Custom-Designed Upgrades

Lakefront Olympia Home Features Many Custom-Designed Upgrades

This unique Olympia home is situated on a premium lakefront lot and features the finest finishes and custom-designed elements, including gorgeous marble flooring, crown molding and millwork, professional window treatments and more. There is a three-car garage, a whole house generator and automated blinds. The floorplan includes two bedrooms on the first floor and three more bedrooms, all with bathrooms, as well as a spacious loft on the second floor. Aside from the home itself, with its gorgeous pool area, the home has access to all the resort-style amenities of the Olympia neighborhood, such as the community pool, water park, clubhouse and tennis, volleyball and basketball courts.  

 

Entryway: The home’s dramatic entryway is breathtaking. A stunning chandelier adds dramatic flair by day and casts a romantic glow by evening.

Kitchen: This thoroughly modern kitchen has everything a chef needs — electric wall oven, Sub-Zero stainless-steel fridge, vegetable prep sink in the island, under-counter wine storage, a walk-in pantry and a breakfast bar. Granite countertops and backsplash ground the space, while ample lighting, including under-cabinet lights, make it easy to work.

 

Family Room: The home’s family room can adapt to many needs. Located just off the kitchen and viewable from the loft, it’s a popular gathering spot. Triple windows and two-story custom built-ins add luxury to the space, as do the professional window treatments.

 

Master Bedroom: The master bedroom, one of two bedrooms located on the main floor, has a sitting area, custom closets with built-in organizers, and luxurious his-and-her en suite bathrooms that are completely separate, divided by the bedroom itself.

 

Guest Bedroom: An amazing Grecian-look custom border and sweeping behind-the-headboard wall treatment are what set this guest bedroom apart from the others.

 

Breakfast Nook: Near the gently spiraling staircase, the cozy breakfast nook offers views of the private pool.

 

Patio Area: The luxurious pool deck offers a covered patio sitting area.

 

Front Entry: Once inside the stately entrance gates, lush landscaping and brick pavers lead to the front door and its eight-pane overhead window and archway.

 

Pool Deck: This L-shaped freshwater pool complements a nearby spa and waterfall features.

Facebookpinterestmail

Dr. Neil Grossman Joins The Staff At Palms West Veterinary Hospital

Dr. Neil Grossman Joins The Staff At Palms West Veterinary Hospital

One might say that Dr. Neil Grossman was born to be a veterinarian, as he is a member of a family that has devoted much of their lives to serving the pets of the Wellington area.

Grossman, 29, is the newest member of the team at the Palms West Veterinary Hospital. However, he has been hanging around and working at the practice much of his life.

“Some of my great memories are of observing my dad, Dr. Ira Grossman, operating on a pet and saving them,” he recalled. “I’ve never wanted to be anything else except a veterinarian, and I especially enjoy surgery.”

Grossman’s family moved to the area when he was 15 from New York, where his father had a successful veterinary practice. They have had Palms West Veterinary Hospital since 2005.

Grossman received his undergraduate degree from the University of Florida, then took some time off to work at the family business, before returning to veterinary school in the accelerated program at Ross Veterinary College on St. Kitts in the Caribbean, a school that is fully accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association Council on Education. It offers a high-tech campus with a rigorous curriculum. “It’s a great school and a beautiful island,” he said.

After graduation, Grossman completed his clinical work at UF in 2017. When he’s not at the hospital, he enjoys surfing and working out.

Grossman believes several things set Palms West Veterinary Hospital apart from other veterinary clinics: their state-of-the-art equipment, round-the-clock service and the atmosphere.

“The digital x-ray allows us to make as many views as we want to take until we get what we need, and because it is digital, we’re not having to charge for all the film,” said Grossman, who explained that in conjunction with complete in-house, high-tech blood testing and telemedicine, they can work comprehensively and quickly. “We can see the big picture in about 15 minutes and send the results anywhere we need to.”

These capabilities, combined with laser therapy, ultrasound and even grooming, make for a single-point operation for pet care with emergency services.

In addition to extended office hours, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week, the urgent care emergency facility — staffed with a doctor and veterinary nurse — is open 24 hours a day, every day.

“The fact that we are always open really sets us apart,” said Grossman, who explained that with a doctor always there, they are a true, round-the-clock, urgent care facility for pets.

Equally important is the family atmosphere.

“While we have 33 staff members, we are run by a family, like a family, and we treat our clients as family,” Grossman said. “My father and brother and sister-in-law all work here, and on the weekend, you’ll see my mom in the office.”

With Grossman’s brother and sister-in-law on the management team, and a younger sister soon to be following in his footsteps, graduating veterinary school herself this year, the practice really defines the term family owned and operated.

Additionally, the group functions great together. “We work well together as a team,” Grossman said. “We have people on the team who have 30 years of experience, so we can complement one another.”

Grossman offered advice to pet owners. “If there is one thing I’d like everyone to know, it is to get regular checkups, so you can prevent heartworms,” he said.

These nasty parasites affect many mammals, including dogs, cats and even ferrets. They are a chronic and potentially fatal disease in dogs, because dogs are their natural host.

The disease is spread by mosquito bites that transfer the juvenile stage from one animal to another. However, it is completely preventable with preemptive medication.

“Even inside-only pets can get heartworms, because we all know mosquitos can get in the house,” Grossman stressed.

Palms West Veterinary Hospital is located at 556 Folsom Road. For more information, visit www.palmswestveterinary.com or call (561) 798-2780.

Facebookpinterestmail

Maggie Zeller Specializes In Personalized Health Insurance Plans

Maggie Zeller Specializes In Personalized Health Insurance Plans

Independent health insurance advisor Maggie Zeller has been finding the best-fitting health insurance coverage for her clients since 2013. As of January 2018, Zeller has created her own firm, Zeller Health Insurance Solutions LLC, through which she pairs her clients with insurance plans that will meet their unique, individual needs.

A resident of Florida since 1991 and of the western comminutes since 2002, Zeller had an extensive professional career in banking and business development dating back to 1974. She earned her health insurance license in 1994 and fully transitioned from banking to health insurance advising in 2013.

Though there are some similarities between the businesses of banking and insuring, Zeller found her passion and fulfillment in helping people navigate their way in the often confusing and overwhelming world of health insurance, and, more precisely, Medicare plans.

“My real passion is in the Medicare field,” Zeller explained. “I really like helping people find the right plan for them as they age into Medicare at age 65 or during open enrollment in November.”

Zeller is licensed with all major health insurance providers, such as Humana, Aetna, United Healthcare, United American and Florida Blue. Her position as an independent advisor allows her to advise clients with the health insurance provider who offers an ideal insurance plan for their health conditions, budget, preferred doctors and medications.

“Because I am licensed with every major carrier, I have the ability to best advise my clients to a plan that is tailor-made to a client, instead of gearing them only in one direction or to one specific insurance carrier,” she explained. “In the Medicare world, specifically, there is a plan for everybody. But not one plan for everybody.”

Zeller serves clients throughout the western communities, though she does have some as far away as Tampa and North Carolina. Her clients’ medical insurance needs range from short-term health insurance plans to applying for specific plans within Medicare. Since all of her clients’ needs vary, Zeller’s daily work centers on conducting in-depth research in order to find the plans that meet precise medical needs or preferences, as well as aiding those in the process of applying for Medicare and consulting with families about their healthcare plans.

“It’s difficult for people to do the extensive research on healthcare and health providers, and that is why it’s important to meet with an independent consultant,” Zeller said.

In her experience, Zeller has found that a majority of her clients have been on healthcare plans from previous employers or specific prescription drug plans. These types of health insurance plans, Zeller explained, can end up costing people more than average healthcare plans. Her fulfillment comes from helping her clients out of wrong healthcare plans and getting them onto plans that will not only meet their medical necessities, but sometimes save them hundreds of dollars.

“Just recently, I met with a retired client who was paying more than $800 a month for her health insurance through a former employer. After enrolling her in a new plan, she is saving in excess of $500 a month. Many people think it is best to stay on a former employer’s plan or a plan that is not right for them,” Zeller said.

Over the last four and a half years, Zeller’s efforts to work in the best interest of her clients have earned her a solid referral-based client list. Zeller not only gets people on the right medical plan, but she also prioritizes the importance of good customer service.

“I have built my business on referrals. I never know who’s going to call me, [and that is] because customer service is key,” she said. “Truthfully, the greatest complement I can receive is when a client refers me; that is when I know I’m doing the right thing, because when you do the right thing for people, they remember.”

Aside from her business, Zeller works every day to make a difference for the people of the western communities. She is an active board member of the Wellington Rotary Club, the Wellington Community Foundation, Back to Basics and the YWCA.

Zeller explained that she recognizes and values the ties between helping people through her business and giving back to the community.

Zeller is available for morning or afternoon consultations, and regularly advises clients in the comfort of their own home. For more information, call (561) 715-9262 or e-mail medicaremaggie@gmail.com.

Facebookpinterestmail

The Fite Group’s Melanie Peterson Uses Her Equestrian Experience To Help Clients

The Fite Group’s Melanie Peterson Uses Her Equestrian
Experience To Help Clients

Wellington is the go-to place for all things equestrian. For Melanie Peterson of the Fite Group Luxury Homes, horses were her life and her livelihood for many years, and when it was time to close the barn door on her equestrian career, she began a new career in real estate.

“I was a professional horse trainer since high school and settled at my own facility after college,” said Peterson, whose family moved to Wellington in 1989. “One of my clients owned a brokerage in Boca Raton and encouraged me to get my license. I took his advice and did just that in 2011 and closed down my training business. I have been selling real estate in and around Wellington ever since.”

Although her training days are behind her, she still enjoys getting up in the saddle, as well as other outdoor activities.

“My husband and I live in Wellington with our two dogs and enjoy riding horses, bass fishing and sporting clays,” Peterson said.

Her equestrian experience has served Peterson well in her real estate career. It certainly helped her choose an area of the profession in which she has undeniable expertise.

“Utilizing my knowledge from managing horse farms and my business experience, I decided to specialize in equestrian properties in Wellington,” she said. “Growing up here, I have witnessed the growth over the years. Knowing these developments from as far back as before they existed helps me to guide my clients in their decisions, whether it is a single-family home, condo, farm or land needing to be developed.”

Wellington isn’t the only area that benefits from Peterson’s talents. 

“I also have my real estate license in Kentucky and specialize in equestrian properties in Lexington, specifically around the Kentucky Horse Park. Many of my clients here are also my clients there,” she explained.

Winding up with the Fite Group was anything but a coincidence for Peterson. She was searching for the perfect fit and found it.

“I chose to work at the Fite Group because I was looking for a brokerage that would support my business and help it grow,” Peterson explained. “The Fite Group has four offices around the county and over 120 agents. We all support each other and refer clients to each other. We also have a top marketing and graphics team that supports each property, so our media, whether digital or print, is second to none. Combining my knowledge and experience with the breadth of support from my office, it is a winning combination that allows me to get top dollar for my sellers and negotiate great deals for my buyers.”

Peterson’s view of Wellington is all-inclusive, but she does give great credit to the equestrian community for the role it plays in making the area an attractive destination.

“Wellington is special because it is a very international community with a hometown feel,” she said. “Whether you live in a $200,000 condo or a $10,000,000 farm, we are all eating at the same restaurants and going to the same grocery stores and share many of the same passions. The equestrian industry in Wellington has set it apart from any other community in the country, and the real estate values have benefited greatly from its development and expansion in recent years. It supports all of our local businesses and trades people, and definitely props up our real estate market in comparison to other municipalities nearby.”

The Fite Group Luxury Homes is located at 13501 South Shore Blvd. in Wellington. To contact Melanie Peterson, call (561) 870-6587 or e-mail mpeterson@fitegroup.com.

Facebookpinterestmail

Wellington Cares Volunteer Evelyn Regan Loves Helping Other Senior Citizens

Wellington Cares Volunteer Evelyn Regan Loves Helping Other Senior Citizens

Evelyn Regan is one of those people whose name is not often in the news, the kind of person who quietly facilitates the lives of others, helping out whenever she can and not thinking twice about it. Family, friends and business associates have all benefited from her care — and her caring.

Regan was born in Cambridge, Mass., grew up in New Jersey and, as an adult, moved to West Palm Beach, where she worked for the Palm Beach County Property Appraiser’s Office throughout the 1960s.

“Then I met a man and married him and moved to Loxahatchee, where we raised two boys, John and Richard, on five acres,” Regan recalled. “It was a wonderful place to raise a family. My older son, John, showed goats at the South Florida Fair. We had two polo ponies we rode. One had been retired and one had pulled a muscle in his chest and could no longer play. We lived behind Tony and Barbara Coppola, and they’re the ones who helped us acquire the ponies. Polo ponies are perfect for inexperienced riders and kids — they don’t mind activity around them on the road or things flying up near their face.”

About 25 years ago, after her sons went off to college, Regan downsized. She sold her home, moved to Wellington and went to work for financial planners Ben and Joanna Boynton.

“My title was office manager etc., etc., etc. When you only have one employee…,” Regan’s voice trails off as her daily duties grew too numerous and varied to list. “I can’t say I’ve lived an exciting life, but it has been a wonderful and dull life. I love living in Wellington. I feel very safe and have lots of friends. I’ve been in my condo about 20 years now, although I do miss having property and the horses we had.”

About 10 years ago, Regan retired from her busy office job, but she’s still just as busy. She is a member of the Wellington Seniors Club, plays dominoes and cards, and loves to travel, visiting Greece, Italy, Croatia, Ireland, Mexico and “quite a bit” of the United States. She also has six grandchildren.

“They keep me very busy, and they make me very happy,” Regan said. “They range in age from 4 to 10, so they’re very young for my age, which is almost 81.”

She has also been involved with the nonprofit Wellington Cares since it began.

“Wellington Cares was founded by [Wellington’s first mayor] Kathy Foster, who patterned it on an organization out of Virginia,” Regan explained. “It has a wonderful board and wonderful trustees. Its goal is to help elderly people ‘age in place’ without the necessity of going into a nursing home or senior care facility. We, volunteers, provide respite care so their day-to-day caretakers can go out… or we’ll take the elderly to their doctors’ or physical therapy appointments… or we’ll shop for them or take them shopping.”

In short, they do whatever is needed to allow clients to stay in their homes, where they feel most secure and happy.

Regan said that when she started with the group, there were just a handful of volunteers, but now there are more than 40. In addition, other communities such as Royal Palm Beach and Boynton Beach are coming to Foster, asking for information on setting up their own similar programs.

Regan has two clients she assists almost every week and, before she knew it, had logged nearly 150 volunteer hours in one year.

“I don’t keep track of hours, but evidently Wellington Cares does,” she said, shrugging off the donation of her time. “I’m elderly myself. But I’ve been blessed with good health, and I don’t take advantage of it. I don’t take any medications, but I do take care of myself. Besides, I have always gotten along with elderly people, even when I was young. When my grandmother was widowed, she came to live with us, and I grew up with her. She moved from Cambridge to New Jersey with us. She would visit her other sons, but she would live with us. My dad passed away when my brother was 6 and I was 12, and I think she was a big help to my mother. Plus, she was a sweetheart. I think children and families have become fractured around the nation, and I think children need their grandparents. They can learn a lot from the elderly.”

Regan herself is still learning. “I hear their stories, and I love them,” she said of the other senior citizens she works with.

Even before Wellington Cares, Regan had always done her share of volunteering.

“When my boys were young, I was class mother and I love hospital work, but I wasn’t drawn to that,” Regan said. “Helping elderly people stay in place and not have to go into a nursing home — I get more from giving to them than anything. They are so appreciative. They just love us.”

Any octogenarial words of wisdom for others?

“What I’ve learned is that anything is possible if you work hard enough, are kind enough and are giving enough,” Regan said. “And that every child needs an education. My advice to the next generation would be simply to be kind, be helpful and be responsible.”

Facebookpinterestmail

Tryon International Equestrian Center Gearing Up To Host 2018 World Equestrian Games

Tryon International Equestrian Center Gearing Up To Host 2018 World Equestrian Games

Make plans to join the world in western North Carolina for the FEI World Equestrian Games Tryon 2018 from Sept. 11 through Sept. 23. Showcasing eight FEI equestrian disciplines — reining, vaulting, dressage, para-dressage, driving, eventing, jumping and endurance — the games will be held at the Tryon International Equestrian Center at the Tryon Resort in Mill Spring, N.C.

The inaugural FEI World Equestrian Games were hosted in Stockholm, Sweden in 1990.

Since then, the games have been staged in The Hague in the Netherlands in 1994; Rome, Italy in 1998; Jerez, Spain in 2002; and Aachen, Germany in 2006.

The first games to be organized outside Europe were held in Lexington, Ky., in 2010, where 57 countries were represented by 800 human athletes and their horses. The games returned to Europe for the 2014 edition in Normandy, France.

The 2018 World Equestrian Games has the potential to be the largest sporting event in North Carolina history with 500,000 attendees expected over the 13-day event next September.

The Tryon International Equestrian Center is busy preparing for a daily attendance of 40,000 to 50,000 people. The 2014 games in Normandy delivered more than $400 million in economic impact, and attracted 984 athletes, 1,234 horses, 74 nations, 1,900 accredited media from 52 countries, and 575,000 spectators.

The global competition is being held at the Tryon International Equestrian Center, a sister venue to Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington.

PBIEC CEO and Managing Partner Mark Bellissimo is also founder and CEO of the Tryon facility. The 1,600-acre equestrian lifestyle destination is a spring, summer and fall haven for eastern and northeastern American equestrian competitors and enthusiasts, and a year-round destination for connoisseurs of diverse cuisine and family entertainment.

The venue currently provides outstanding facilities for hunter/jumper, dressage and eventing competitions, and will host all eight FEI disciplines following the 2018 World Equestrian Games.

With onsite shops, dining, entertainment and plans for more — including the current development of a 50-acre Tryon Village — non-equestrian visitors are equally marveled by the Tryon Resort experience.

From carousel to competition, the mission of the Tryon International Equestrian Center is to celebrate the magic of the horse, grow equestrian sport and increase access to this majestic animal. The 2018 World Equestrian Games builds on this mission with a theme of, “Celebrate the Horse, Celebrate the Sport.”

“The love of the horse is universal and profound,” Bellissimo said. “The games are an incredible stage to show the world how important and valuable this creature is and celebrate our relationship with them.”

The legacy of horse and rider penetrates all of human history. Nearly every facet of life is connected to this extraordinary creature. As partners, horses have discovered with us, transported us, sustained us, worked with us and protected us. As friends, they have mourned with us, healed us, loved us, entertained us, trusted us and comforted us. As athletes, horses have competed with us, won with us and celebrated victory with us. This message is portrayed beautifully in the film “#together” that is featured on the Tryon2018.com web site.

Complementing the unparalleled opportunity to watch the world’s top riders and horses compete is the chance to discover the distinct culture and adventures within the Carolinas region.

The Tryon International Equestrian Center is centrally located within an hour of some of the United States’ top destinations, including Asheville and Charlotte in North Carolina, and Greenville in South Carolina. World Equestrian Games attendees are encouraged to plan excursions to experience the collection of small towns and dynamic cities that surround the venue.

So, make plans to join the global community of horse enthusiasts as we celebrate the horse and celebrate equestrian sport together!

Tickets to the 2018 World Equestrian Games are on sale and can be purchased at www.tryon2018.com, where information about corporate hospitality, accommodations, competition schedules, media credentials and volunteer opportunities can also be found.

Facebookpinterestmail

Michael Stone: The Man Behind WEF And WEG

Michael Stone: The Man Behind WEF And WEG

Another successful Winter Equestrian Festival has concluded its run in Wellington. Once again, past and future Olympians from numerous countries — along with riders from many different skill levels — competed for 12 weeks in front of tens of thousands of spectators.

On the other side of the grounds from the International Arena, where the world’s best show jumpers and hunter riders competed for almost $10 million in prize money, is Michael Stone’s office, located at the end of the hall in the administration building.

Stone joined Mark Bellissimo’s Equestrian Sport Productions 11 years ago. He is the man behind the scenes who makes it all happen. Prize money has quadrupled over that time, and so has the number of horses competing in the largest and longest running horse show in the world.

Bellissimo knows how important Stone is to the continued success of WEF. As president, Stone is involved in every aspect of the business, from operations to scheduling and special events. Stone deals with many additional topics, including licensing and planning while monitoring and handling issues with international entries. He also has meetings with the different managers and regular phone conferences, talking to foreign federations, and organizing visits from their presidents. Every day is different, and that appeals to the 61-year-old Stone, who was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland.

“We have very different styles, but they are extremely complementary,” said Bellissimo, who is CEO and the public face of the company. “He is very disciplined in managing within very complicated environments. He has been critical to the vision, but in many ways, he prefers to be behind the scenes and just make things happen — a great team player who is respected by all. I get a tremendous amount of credit, but it wouldn’t have happened without Michael’s leadership and management. There is no ego there, if the team wins, we all win, and I think that attitude pervades our organization.” 

Olympian Shane Sweetnam has known fellow Irishman Stone for more than a decade.

“He’s done a great job; he’s made a big difference in the structure,” Sweetnam said. “He’s got a relaxed attitude. I think that helps the people around him so they don’t feel flustered. They have a lot of projects going on, not just in Wellington, and he seems to handle it with ease.”

Bellissimo and Stone work very closely together. As with most relationships, there were a few bumps that had to be smoothed out.

“Whenever Mark gets an idea, he calls; it could be five o’clock in the morning or 10 at night,” Stone said. “Over the years, he realized I don’t like being called early in the morning or late at night. So now, he generally waits or sends an e-mail. He knows I’m open to try anything, and I’ll try to find a way to make it happen. Being together for 10 years, I think he values my opinions.”

Bellissimo called Stone the consummate team player.

“He is calm and steady in a storm and is able to distill complex strategies into ‘feet on the ground’ operating plans whose elements are effectively communicated to and executed by the team,” Bellissimo said. “He is extremely well-respected within our organization, locally, nationally and internationally. Another great attribute is that he will roll up his sleeves to get the job done, whatever it takes. I still remember he and I unloading a truck at 2 a.m. in the morning before opening day of WEF in 2008. Together with Vaneli Bojkova, Paul Regal and David Burton Jr., there is no better team to have your back.”

However, their relationship almost didn’t get off the ground.  

Bellissimo didn’t know Stone before he hired him to help turn around WEF, which was losing money at the time. While looking for strong candidates, Stone’s name came up from several respected sources. Stone had been working in high-profile equestrian jobs throughout his adult life. He had just left as secretary general of the Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI), which is the sport’s world governing body.

Stone left the FEI on a Wednesday, and Bellissimo called on Friday. Stone didn’t want to take the call but was talked into it by his girlfriend. It changed his life.

“I hired him on the call,” Bellissimo said. “Everything I heard about him was that he was humble, intelligent, principled, hard-working, respected by his peers, and he knew the industry better than anyone… Katherine [Bellissimo] and I wanted the best person for the job. He was it. It was the best decision we ever made, as together we charted a course that reshaped Wellington, and even equestrian sport in this country, as the largest show organizers in the world in terms of overall revenues, number of international competitions and horses competing.”

Under Stone’s leadership, Equestrian Sport Productions’ business has quadrupled over the last decade as a result of Bellissimo and his partnership investing more than $300 million in acquiring and developing land, licenses, building and upgrading what is now more than 900 acres of property that directly employs nearly 1,000 employees during the season. Its economic impact on Palm Beach County exceeds $200 million per year, Bellissimo noted.

In addition to the world-famous WEF, the firm now operates the Adequan Global Dressage Festival, the International Polo Club Palm Beach and the Wanderers Club. At WEF, they have added innovative special events, such as the Great Charity Challenge, Saturday Night Lights, an Under 25 series for rising stars and the popular Battle of the Sexes, as well as family entertainment and vendors to create a world-renowned equestrian wonderland.

Stone said one of the biggest changes in the last 10 years is the scale and size of the show.

“Revenue-wise, we have grown over 400 percent, and it’s a much more intense show now because of the amount of effort to make it an entertainment value,” Stone said. “Saturday nights have grown to such an extent it’s unbelievable the crowds we’re getting.”

Creating the successful Saturday Night Lights series is one of his proudest accomplishments so far during his tenure.

“Mark and I looked at it,” Stone said. “The former management of WEF used to charge people to come here. It was a customer prevention strategy. The major jumping event was on Sunday afternoon, competing against polo and general family activities.”

Their solution was to make general admission to spectators free, charge a nominal fee for parking, and market the event to families and schools.

“The first year, we got a lot of grief from people, such as riders asking why we’re doing it at night,” said Stone, who admitted that there were more empty seats than spectators at the beginning of the changeover. “But we proved them wrong. We’re one of the very few shows in the U.S. that get massive crowds that watch Grand Prix events. And that’s at all our venues, not just WEF.”

That would include the affiliated Equestrian Sport Productions shows in Parker, Colorado and Tryon, North Carolina, the site of this year’s prestigious World Equestrian Games. It is expected to be the largest attended sporting event in the United States in 2018, attracting more than 500,000 attendees, according to Bellissimo.

Stone and his team are in Tryon to oversee final preparations for the games, which are held every four years, halfway between the Summer Olympics. This year’s competition will be held Sept. 11 through Sept. 23, and will include eight equestrian disciplines. More than 55 countries are expected to participate.

Stone spent much of this time this winter working on WEG, organizing the event, including accommodations, transportation and the food operation.

He has produced intricate timelines for each discipline, while also working with the numerous world and national federations, as well as the USDA regarding the quarantine of horses coming into the country.

“There are so many extra layers,” Stone said. “Usually there are five FEI stewards for 200 horses. For WEG, there are 11 stewards for each discipline. And we have to build a veterinarian hospital. We will have 60 or 70 vets. Each team comes with a manager, a vet, a farrier, grooms and physios. And every country comes with a president and a secretary general.”

But the massive undertaking doesn’t faze Stone. “I like the challenge of organizing, and the WEG is a huge challenge,” he said.

Stone believes that the games this fall will be one of Equestrian Sport Productions’ greatest achievements, but won’t make that pronouncement until it’s over. There are plenty of other high points, including putting together the first horse show at Central Park in New York City. There were logistical issues and a small time frame to get everything in place and ready for live TV.

“Everyone said it was impossible, but that’s never a good word to use with Mark,” Stone said. “Impossible only takes a little bit longer.”

That’s the attitude that has allowed WEF to flourish. In Stone’s office, he shows off a framed golf tee flag from the Masters in Augusta, a trip which he said should be on everyone’s bucket list. On Stone’s bucket list is to watch his favorite tennis player, Roger Federer, play in a major championship, like Wimbledon or the U.S. Open. His walls are covered with equestrian photos, but it’s a photo from a local rugby team that energizes Stone.

“My favorite sport is rugby,” said Stone, who has traveled to watch some of the premier teams compete. “I used to play. We helped the Wellington Wizards when they started up.”

When Stone joined Equestrian Sport Productions, he was simply coordinating a horse show.

“It has evolved into doing a lot of different things — dealing with village issues, organizing permits for special events, planning and zoning, building codes,” he said. “Every morning is different. There were a lot of things that I had no idea about. But the best thing about my job is that I work with a fantastic group of people. There isn’t a day that we don’t have a laugh about something. It’s an enjoyable environment to work in. Mark is very big on family. We’re all part of the family.”

Facebookpinterestmail

Bringing You The Best Of Wellington Since 2004