Category Archives: Feature Stories

Wellington The Magazine, LLC Featured Articles

Wellington Rotary Club’s Kevlar For K9s Raffle Supports Heroic Dogs

Wellington Rotary Club’s Kevlar For K9s Raffle Supports Heroic Dogs

Heroes come in many different shapes and sizes. Our heroes may be short, tall, fast, strong or possibly even covered in fur. It is those animal heroes that the Wellington Rotary Club’s Kevlar for K9s fundraiser aims to protect.

Heroic moments can and do occur at any given time at any given place, often when they are least expected. Heroes and their heroic moments are not predestined. They just happen, such as the sacrifice made by Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office K9 Cigo last Christmas Eve.

While Wellington residents were celebrating the holiday, perhaps in church, singing Christmas carols, finishing up holiday shopping or enjoying time at home with friends and family, a heroic incident occurred in a most unlikely location by a most unlikely hero. While helping subdue a violent criminal in the parking lot near the Mall at Wellington Green, Cigo was shot and later died from his injuries.

Not only did Cigo become a hero that night, but the three-year-old dog gave his life in the process of doing what he was trained to do — protect the public.

Since then, Wellington locals have sprung into action, and fundraising efforts are now underway with help from two local organizations to raise enough money to buy protective bulletproof Kevlar vests for as many PBSO K9s as possible.

Kevlar for K9s is a raffle fundraiser being run by the Wellington Rotary Club, which is selling raffle tickets for $100 apiece between now and May 16. This raffle is being sponsored by local law firm Lesser, Lesser, Landy, & Smith. The winning raffle ticket will be drawn on May 16, and you don’t have to be present to win. The holder of the winning ticket will receive one-third of the raffle funds, while the remaining two-thirds of the total collected will go to Kevlar for K9s and other Rotary charities.

“When we heard about K9 Cigo losing his life, organizing a fundraiser to buy Kevlar vests for the dogs seemed like the right thing to do,” Wellington Rotary Club President Tom Carreras said. “The club likes to help the local community where there’s a need. Plus, a fundraiser like this fits well with our motto at Rotary, which is ‘Service Above Self.’”

The club also has close ties to the PBSO, which makes the fundraising effort that much more rewarding.

Rotarian Mickey Smith, a partner at Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith, is proud that his firm stepped up to sponsor this important fundraiser.

“Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith is proud to partner with Rotary’s efforts,” Smith said. “Our law firm has represented many Wellington residents through the years, and we have an office in Wellington. As a firm, we believe that we have an obligation to give back to the communities we serve — the communities where we live and work. It’s in our DNA. Throughout our 91-year history in Palm Beach County, the firm has partnered with many initiatives to make a positive difference in the community. Here, we are thrilled to be involved in the Rotary Club of Wellington’s efforts to protect these amazing, four-legged sheriff’s deputies.”

Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith is a third-generation law firm that has been representing injured clients and their families across Florida for more than 91 years. In that time, the firm has grown to four offices located in West Palm Beach, Stuart, Wellington and Boca Raton primarily representing clients and their families who have suffered serious injury or the loss of a loved one due to the negligence of another.

Smith said he was heartbroken when he heard about the incident involving Cigo on Christmas Eve.

“As a member of the Rotary and a resident of Wellington for more than 25 years, I was devastated when K9 Cigo was shot by a cowardly thug,” Smith said. “Cigo epitomized Rotary’s motto of ‘Service Above Self.’ He literally gave his life in service of our community. While a bad person wrote the beginning of this horrible story, I was confident that the community, working together, could salvage some good from this tragedy. The Rotary’s initiative both honors K9 Cigo and helps protect other brave sheriff’s dogs by providing them Kevlar bulletproof vests. The response from the Wellington community has been incredible. Every ticket purchaser will have the satisfaction of helping make a positive difference here in our community.”

Officials from the PBSO are thankful for the club’s efforts.

“We are greatly appreciative of the fact that the Wellington Rotary is holding this fundraiser for the bulletproof vests for the K9s,” PBSO Chief Deputy Michael Gauger said. “The dogs do what they are trained to do, and they do what they love. They are tremendous athletes who work in a very stressful environment. They are chasing and dealing with some of the worst criminals out there in the county.”

Gauger noted that the K9s have saved the lives of law enforcement officers on multiple occasions.

“It just goes to show the importance of giving that extra protection for those dogs,” Gauger explained. “I am personally contributing to the Kevlar for K9s fund.”

The Wellington Rotary Club has been working to promote the Kevlar for K9s raffle at community events in the area, such as the animal rescue and adoption event Paws at the Mall held Friday, April 5 at the Mall at Wellington Green and annual Wellington Egg Hunt held Saturday, April 20 at Village Park.

For the fundraiser to make a real difference, many tickets must be sold, since each K9 vest will cost more than $1,000. According to Carreras, the current goal is to sell at least 500 raffle tickets, which means the winning raffle ticket would be worth more than $16,000. As of mid-April, more than 350 tickets had been sold.

“Our initial goal was to raise enough money to buy Kevlar vests for one of the two K9s in Wellington,” Carreras said. “Now, we know that we will surpass our initial goal.”

Both Smith and Carreras have acknowledged that the strong purchasing response from the general public confirms that Kevlar for K9s is a great cause worth supporting.

Also, all 50 members of the club are selling tickets and collecting the proceeds for the big drawing on May 16. To buy a ticket, visit www.wellingtonrotary.org or call Carreras at (561) 798-4565.

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Law & Justice Avery Chapman Horse Trainers Beware: Training Fees Not Included Under Stablekeeper’s Lien Law In Florida

Law & Justice  Avery Chapman Horse Trainers Beware: Training Fees Not Included Under Stablekeeper’s Lien Law In Florida

Many horse trainers not only provide training to the equine athletes in their charge but also provide feed and care for those horses. This is commonly billed to the owner as “training board.” However, and contrary to common belief, if the owner of a horse on training board does not pay the trainer for the entire bill, in most states, a trainer cannot claim a lien against the horse for unpaid amounts attributable to training fees. To make such a claim is to make an improper lien.

In this article, I discuss the proper scope of a lien. That is, what amounts can be claimed?

Florida, like most states, does not permit liens against horses for training services. Most states do not have specific lien statutes specifically designating non-payment of “training fees” as a legal basis to claim a lien against a horse and sell the horse to satisfy the lien.

The general principal of interpretation of law is that if something is not specifically included, then the statute should be read to omit it. Therefore, under Florida law, and in many other states, because training services are not specifically mentioned in the stablekeeper’s lien law, unpaid training fees do not properly subject the horse to a lien. In contrast, exceptions to this general rule are the stablekeeper’s liens laws of Maryland and West Virginia, which specifically state that training services are properly subject to a lien.

In other states, such as Florida, which do not specifically list or include “training” or “training fees” along with “care and feeding” of a horse, a trainer should be wary of claiming too large a lien upon a horse when providing multiple services to a horse. For example, Florida’s stablekeeper’s lien law (F.S. § 713.65), otherwise known as an agister’s lien, does not include a right to lien for unpaid training fees associated with a horse. The law is very specific in that it provides for a possessory lien in favor of the stablekeeper for “the caring and feeding” of a horse. The language of the statute does not include “training” in the categories of services provided.

The logical and proper interpretation of the law, using the common meaning of the words “care and feeding,” leads to the reasonable conclusion that Florida’s statute does not allow a trainer to impose a claim of lien against a horse pursuant to F.S. § 713.65 for unpaid training fees.

Reading other Florida statutes on the topic leads to the reasonable conclusion that the Florida Legislature specifically declined to include training expenses into a second lien statute on the subject. Specifically, F.S. § 713.66, which applies to racehorses, polo ponies and dogs, allows a non-possessory lien only to those who “furnish corn, oats, hay, grain or other feed or feedstuffs or straw or bedding material” for the cost thereof. As well, the legislature has provided an express remedy in F.S. § 713.655 to veterinary professionals for the professional services veterinarians supply to horses.

The point is that while providing feed providers and veterinarians specific lien rights against horses for their materials and services, a lawmaking body, such as the Florida Legislature, may have not specifically provided equine trainers a right of lien against horses for training services. In that case, a trainer and his or her attorneys should resist the temptation to include all overdue charges in a claim of lien when some of those overdue charges include training fees.

In contrast, Florida’s stablekeeper’s lien law does not specifically enumerate “training” or “trainers” as being a lienable charge and a party entitled to impress a lien for training services. “Feeding or caring for” and “feeding and taking care of” are not the same words and do not have the same meaning as “training,” and the statute does not ever mention “trainers” as a professional service provider entitled to impress a lien for training services. Accordingly, the amount of a proper stablekeeper’s lien on horses in Florida is, therefore, limited to the care and feeding costs and no more.

Finally, be aware that a party exercising self-help under Florida law does so at his or her peril. Therefore, a stablekeeper who imposes an improper lien for a too-large amount, and later causes a sale of the horse, is not free from responsibility of the improper lien. Florida courts have held that when a sale of a horse pursuant to a stablekeeper’s lien passes ownership of the horse, it does not establish the legitimacy of the underlying debt or of the lienor’s conduct. In other words, if a trainer imposes a lien for charges that are not properly included under F.S. § 713.65 and then forecloses the lien by selling the horse or horses under F.S. § 85.031 (non-judicial, public sale), the sale does not legitimize the actions of the trainer and the trainer is not immune to an action by the horse owner for foreclosing on a lien based on an inflated amount that should not have included training charges.

For these reasons, a stablekeeper, and his or her attorneys, should be wary of asserting a lien amount on a horse that covers amounts that are not covered by Florida’s stablekeeper’s lien law.

Confused yet? The process of impressing and foreclosing on the lien, as well as holding the public sale or pursuing judicial sale, are equally complex. I recommend the assistance of legal counsel when these issues arise.

Attorney Avery S. Chapman is the founding and inaugural chair of the Equine Law Committee of the Animal Law Section of the Florida Bar. He practices in Wellington, where he counsels members of the equine industry and athletes on a wide range of matters. Chapman may be reached at asc@chapmanlawgroup.net or through www.equinelawgroup.com.

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Local Attorney Marcelo Montesinos Is Committed To His Community And His Clients

Local Attorney Marcelo Montesinos Is Committed To His Community And His Clients

Moving to Palm Beach County when he was less than a year old, Marcelo Montesinos spent the first 15 years of his life in West Palm Beach before his family moved to Wellington. He loves the area, where he practices family life and law today.

“There was no great epiphany that made me want to be a lawyer,” Montesinos recalled. “I was drawn into it because I always wanted to fight for the underdog and people who have the odds against them. I became a lawyer because I wanted to be given an opportunity to help people who sometimes need help.”

Married since 2005, with a five-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son, Montesinos, 46, is a noted personal injury attorney and family man.

A graduate of Florida Atlantic University and Seton Hall Law School in New Jersey, he has been practicing law since 1997. Working in Washington, D.C., after college, then joining the Palm Beach County Public Defender’s Office after law school, he went into private practice in 2001.

“Wellington has grown in the past decade quite a bit, and what I love about it is that there’s still a very tight-knit kind of community setting,” Montesinos said. “I enjoy being part of the community and seeing it grow and seeing all the leaders, some of whom I know personally, move us in the right direction.”

Montesinos also likes the community vibe here in Wellington.

“There’s still a small-town feel,” he said. “I guess that’s every small city’s challenge, to try and maintain the small-town feel, and Wellington does that.”

His is an intimately sized firm that specializes in personal injury law.

“There is just me and a couple of attorneys and a couple of paralegals and staff. So, we feel like a family practice, and clients can easily speak directly to me,” Montesinos said. “We are not a family practice, of course. We do personal injury and wrongful death cases.”

Montesinos said he gauges the success of his firm by the positive impact it has on clients and those clients’ willingness to refer him to their friends and family. “We handle things such as car accidents, trucking accidents and accidents caused by the negligence of someone else,” he explained.

While some gauge success by money won for clients, Montesinos said that for him, it’s more about helping those in need.

“It’s so hard to be specific, but we’ve handled thousands of personal injury accident cases, and they number very high in terms of the compensation. I’ve never really made a tally, although that seems to be the trend,” Montesinos said. “I realize that the best way I can tell that I’m doing well is by the referrals from clients, so I know that we are doing something right.”

Montesinos is fluent in English, Spanish and Italian, which has helped him communicate and maintain many relationships throughout the South Florida community.

What he feels sets his practice apart from others in any language is the entire team’s attitude toward their clients.

“We have a deep, deep commitment to our clients that goes way beyond a phone call to the office,” he said. “My clients have my cell phone and can contact me almost at any time. They can bypass the office when they feel the need. We have our team there, and they can help with a lot of the procedural paperwork, but sometimes clients talk to or text me directly, also. Since I’m a smaller office, I have an obligation to provide personal service, and I call them back, and our team does our best to make sure clients feel they can call us at any time.”

Nothing gets in the way of Montesinos’ commitment to clients.

“We satisfy our goal of devoting all of our energy and passion to every case,” said Montesinos, who explained that he is committed to excellence in the practice of law while maintaining the highest ethical standards in the pursuit of justice. “My dedication is surely to my clients and what they are going through, because when someone is involved in an accident, it really changes their world. Sometimes it really turns everything upside down. We work to set things right again.”

Things sitting right brings Montesinos back to his hometown and what he feels is great about Wellington.

“It is a great place to raise a family. I believe that this is a great community that is growing in a controlled manner, so we still maintain the small-town flavor. We have plenty of great restaurants and places to go with the kids,” Montesinos said. “I love Wellington, and I hope to continue living and working in the area for the rest of my life.”

For more information about Marcelo Montesinos and his law firm, call (561) 721-1600 or visit www.montesinoslaw.com.

 

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Julie Kime Proud To Continue Her Many Years Of Support For The Boys & Girls Club

Julie Kime Proud To Continue Her Many Years Of Support For The Boys & Girls Club

Julie Kime may be four years into her retirement, but she is far from finished contributing to the community. Following a tour 32 years ago, she fell so in love with the children at the Boys & Girls Club that she became a tireless and consistent voice for them as a volunteer, philanthropist and board member of the organization.

Kime started out as an advisory board member for what is now the Neil S. Hirsch Family Boys & Girls Club of Wellington. She is one of the first, if not the first, major sponsors of the Wellington Dinner Dance, which is the club’s largest fundraiser attracting more than 300 people and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

Kime and her husband, John, are the only benefactors who have supported and never missed one single dinner dance in the event’s 31-year history. She has long served on the event’s committee and has been a fierce solicitor of auction items to help raise even more money.

After serving on the Wellington advisory board for several years, Kime joined the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County’s corporate board of directors. She now serves on both the local club’s advisory board and the organization’s corporate board.

Kime has stayed true to her roots in Wellington. Four years after selling her Allstate Insurance agency in Wellington, she continues to commute frequently from her home in Palm Beach Gardens to take part in the club’s activities, such as its Cinco de Mayo Celebration, Summer Bash, Thanksgiving Meal, Holiday Party and more.

Kime’s roots go deep into the very heart of the Village of Wellington. In 1982, Kime opened her insurance agency, which became one of the most successful in Palm Beach County. Of Cuban background, she was the first Hispanic female agent in the county to operate an Allstate agency.

Now, Wellington boasts a population of 64,848 and Money magazine named it among the “Top 100” Best Places to Live. Kime is ingrained into the very history of Wellington. Many things have transformed in Wellington, including it becoming the “Equestrian Capital of the World.” Yet Kime has remained steadfast in her commitment to the area. She knew as a young entrepreneur that Wellington was a special place.

“I love Wellington and its sense of community,” Kime explained. “I enjoy the people here and especially the children. I felt I would make the greatest impact by choosing one charity and staying with it.”

She chose the Boys & Girls Club as the recipient of her giving spirit. The community seeds she has sown in Wellington have harvested not only a successful business, but also lifelong friends and many accolades.

Kime was a part of the 1990 class of Leadership Palm Beach County, as well as a founding member of what is now the Central Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce. Through the years, she has been the recipient of the Central Chamber’s Business of the Year Award, the Palms West Community Foundation’s Women of the Year Stiletto Award, the Executive Women of the Palm Beaches’ Leadership Award, the Women of Worth Award presented by the Central Chamber, Hispanic Women of Distinction of South Florida and the Portrait of a Woman Award.

However, the accolades are secondary to her deep desire for making a profound difference. Kime and her husband were again one of the first to step forward with support when the initial drive to build a new, state-of-the-art Boys & Girls Club for Wellington’s children started to take shape.

In 2012, thanks to a generous $1.5 million donation from Neil S. Hirsch, $600,000 from Palm Beach County, $700,000 from the Village of Wellington and numerous other donations like from the Kimes, the organization broke ground on the new 22,570-square-foot Neil S. Hirsch Family Boys & Girls Club. The new club opened in April 2013.

Those who walk through the club’s doors will forever be greeted in its John and Julie Kime Welcome Center.

“The club is such a great and safe place for kids to go to after school,” Kime said. “The sheriff’s office loves it because the club helps the police by keeping youth involved in something that keeps them off the streets and away from trouble.”

That level of compassion for the community is part of Kime’s very fabric. She and her husband are also quick to donate to other local organizations, such as Palm Beach State College, the Executive Women of the Palm Beaches and the Everglades Foundation, to name a few.

Yet, Kime’s heart and time commitment remains with the Wellington club. Mentoring young, at-risk students and impressing upon them the importance of education, self-esteem, honesty and hard work is what makes her come alive.

“Seeing the smiles on kids’ faces, how much they love being at the club, and how grateful they are for everything that is provided to them is priceless,” Kime said.

She has leveraged her business and personal relationships to open numerous doors that broaden the horizons of club children.

During the week of Thanksgiving, she works with Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw to send the PBSO to the club in the morning to set up, cook and serve a holiday meal fit for a king to the club’s 300-plus children and staff. Kime, along with the club’s board of directors, joins the festivities and breaks bread with the kids. The all-day affair is estimated to cost $10,000 annually in food, party supplies, decorations and time.

In addition, Kime’s friend J.B. Berkow, founder of the Benzaiten Center for the Creative Arts, provides 60 scholarships every year to Wellington club members. Younger kids experience hands-on sandcasting, while the older kids and teens engage in glass blowing.

Relationships are central to Kime. She and the club’s advisory board enjoy a bond that feels like a family. They support each other and roll up their sleeves together so that club children have memorable experiences, as well as resources to be productive adults.

“The dedication of the board is extraordinary,” Kime said. “They are such good and caring people who give their all and genuinely want to serve these children.”

For her contributions to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County, Kime has been inducted into the Jeremiah Milbank Society as well as the Lifetime Giving Society.

Kime has dedicated her life to the Boys & Girls Club in Wellington and to the success of its young members. She looks forward to continuing to serve with as much drive and passion as when she first began her mission three decades ago.

“As long as I can, I will continue to serve,” she said.

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Jeremy Nickel Brings Passion And Philanthropy To Wellington Community

Jeremy Nickel Brings Passion And Philanthropy To Wellington Community

On the heels of his debut party in March, Jeremy Justin Nickel has splashed onto the Wellington scene with passion, integrity and elbow grease.

These are the qualities that Nickel has imported from Napa Valley, Calif., to join Wellington’s social and dining sphere while developing his newest venture, To-Kalon Farm, an elite, multidisciplinary equestrian facility aiming to be the next destination venue in Wellington.

Moving from wine country on the west coast to the horse country of South Florida has been a formative period in Nickel’s life, and he has worked persistently over the course of a year to bring his equestrian estate up to the standards of quality that his late father, Gil Nickel, instilled in him, while giving back to causes that are near to his heart.

Nickel was born into an agricultural family that split its time between San Francisco and Oakville, Calif. From a young age, he was surrounded by some of the most notable wineries in the United States. His father, the proprietor of the Far Niente, Nickel & Nickel and Dolce wineries, always sought to exceed the highest standards of oenology, the science and study of wine and winemaking, which he bestowed onto his son. After graduating from Southern Methodist University in 2001, Nickel returned to the Napa Valley to assist with the grand opening of Nickel & Nickel in 2003 before his father passed away from cancer.

His father’s passing, although incredibly painful, motivated Nickel to work tirelessly to create the ultimate tribute wine in honor and appreciation of his father. The product of his dedication was a cult cabernet sauvignon, warmly branded the Vineyard House (TVH). After receiving much acclaim, Nickel decided to expand the vineyard, which is located on some of the most fertile and sought-after soil that the Napa Valley has to offer. Today, he focuses solely on the production of TVH wine and carries on his father’s legacy through his commitment to quality wine, philanthropy and his community.

“Because the vineyard is a living tribute to him, with everything I do I ask myself, ‘Is this something my dad would be proud of?’ and usually the answer is yes,” Nickel explained. “I am very proud of my family’s history and our evolution into being a leader in the wine industry, so I’ve chosen to donate a percentage of the Vineyard House’s proceeds to cancer research every year.”

Although Nickel was not planning to call Wellington home, the universe conspired to push him into a new phase of life at To-Kalon Farm, located in the heart of Wellington horse country. To-Kalon Farm is a 15-acre, multidisciplinary, full-service equestrian facility that offers high-end boarding and training with even bigger plans for the future.

The picturesque property offers a discreet yet well-positioned location less than five minutes from the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center and the International Polo Club Palm Beach. Appropriately, “To-Kalon” is an ancient Greek phrase used by Aristotle and Socrates to mean “the greatest or highest beauty.”

“I initially fell in love with the property’s potential, and I am having a lot of fun developing it,” Nickel said. “Re-designing the landscaping and working to transition it into a very tranquil and exclusive facility for people to have beautiful grounds to work with their horses on has been a very rewarding project for me.”

With the intention of hosting a multitude of equestrian activities, from boarding and training of elite show horses to scenic weddings, Nickel plans for To-Kalon Farm to become a destination facility that will fulfill a unique space in Wellington.

Featuring a 12-stall barn, arena, grass derby field, riding track, hot-walker and polo stick-and-ball field, the well-rounded equestrian space boasts everything needed and more to serve as a full-service operation surrounded by the pristine beauty that Nickel has cultivated.

“I became enthralled with the property because of the mature trees that the previous owner, dressage competitor Anthea Christian, had developed with her husband,” Nickel said. “They are from Kenya in Africa, and so the property, the trees, and the residence all have a bit of an African influence to it, which I really love.”

Africa also holds a special place in Nickel’s philanthropic heart. After attaining sobriety 11 years ago, he went on a trip to Senegal that completely altered his perspective of the world. Now, he is part of a program that builds schools in rural parts of Senegal to support several villages in the surrounding area, and he donates a percentage of proceeds from TVH to the program.

“It changed my life to get to go to a place where people live in mud huts but would give you the shirt off their back,” Nickel said. “It is not about what you have but what you appreciate and what you’re grateful for.”

Nickel has already continued his philanthropic ways in Wellington. In March, he joined forces with the Great Charity Challenge to identify a charity in need to which he could make a significant donation. Place of Hope, a Palm Beach County-based nonprofit, received $17,000 in funding thanks to a charitable donation made by TVH. The organization is dedicated to providing stable and loving family environments for children and youth who are hurting and their families. In an effort to meet the desperate needs of the children, families and the child welfare system, Place of Hope has developed a variety of programs and has become the largest, most diverse residential children’s organization in South Florida, serving 340 children and youth on a daily basis.

Through his unique life experiences, Nickel has become inspired to form an ethos of passion, integrity and hard work with a commitment to improving the lives of others that he hopes will be a positive addition to Wellington and its people for many years to come.

Bringing with him a diverse knowledge of wine, equestrian sport and philanthropy, Nickel is a fitting addition to the eclectic group of residents and visitors from around the globe that form the beautiful melting pot community of Wellington both year-round and seasonally.

Learn more about To-Kalon Farm at www.to-kalonfarm.com.

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Hilda Porro Takes A Holistic And Mindful Approach To Practicing Law

Hilda Porro Takes A Holistic And Mindful Approach To Practicing Law

Wellington attorney Hilda Porro has worked hard to cement her reputation within the community as a professional who approaches all types of legal matters with compassion, allowing her clients to understand the law and how it will affect both themselves and their families.

Specializing in holistic law, Porro chooses to focus on the whole person and their unique legal situation. For some, holistic law may be an unfamiliar term. Holistic law is an approach, or style, of practice that focuses on the individual in their entirety and how their distinctiveness as an individual influences their legal situation. The approach then seeks to find sustainable and positive solutions based on that individual’s needs and conditions.

“I chose to practice holistic law because I felt that it was a perfect combination of my values and the practice of law,” Porro said. “[Holistic law] acknowledges our shared humanity, first and foremost. The main goal is to smooth over conflicts and to aid the client in maintaining communications and show a willingness to have full conversations based on the client’s situation.”

This approach to law differs from traditional practices where the focus is generally on the facts of a client’s situation. However, her unique approach comes as no surprise, since, when not assisting clients at her legal practice, Porro also offers services as a certified life coach and shaman.

It is this unique blending of professional skills that has allowed Porro to create a practice that has not only benefited from her legal expertise, but has also maintained a small town, personal feel appreciated by many Wellington residents. Porro concentrates in three areas of law: estate planning; probate and trust administration; and real estate transactions.

Porro brings almost 30 years of experience to assist with the sale or purchase of real estate, including contract-to-closing representation in residential and commercial transactions, including review and preparation of contracts, title-related documentation and all closing documents. She also has extensive experience with both year-round Wellington residents and the seasonal equestrian community. This knowledge allows Porro to have a deep understanding of the concerns of each.

Buying and selling a home, or even an investment property, can easily become stressful, as the legal system often encourages an adversarial approach, even when all parties have the same goal in mind. Porro’s goal is to completely represent her clients while also assisting in mitigating possible disagreements or conflicts that may arise. As a licensed title insurance agent, Porro has successfully handled a wide assortment of issues over the years.

“I am passionate about supporting my clients, and I am very invested in the success of their endeavors,” Porro said. “Addressing important legal needs, such as buying and selling a new home, is worth conscious focus and attention. I’ve designed my practice to address my clients’ unique concerns so that their legal needs are addressed, and they experience peace of mind as well.”

This approach comes as a refreshing surprise to many new clients, as it is not typical. Porro utilizes her training as a life coach to support clients in navigating the stressful times of transition, such as buying or selling a home, through mindfulness to move from and into a physical space that is clear and supportive.

“Having an attorney provides assurance that your specific interests are protected; that you’re not being overcharged or held responsible for something beyond your contractual obligation,” Porro said. “This is especially important as a buyer so that title is reviewed and confirmed clear with no errors in closing documents. Life coaching skills help in navigating the time of transition, for both sellers and buyers. Our homes often create a feeling of security. Moving is stressful on a deeper level than is often acknowledged.”

Aside from her practice in Wellington, Porro is also an integral part of the recently opened Triad Wellness Center in Jupiter. At Triad, her main objective is to aid clients in discovering true wellness through a holistic approach to wellness, which involves self-inquiry into all areas of her clients’ lives, including one’s physical body, physical surroundings, social life/relationships, career/self-expression, spirituality, finances, rest/relaxation, and, in her opinion, the most important and often overlooked component, fun.

“Professionally, I am a life coach, lawyer and shaman,” Porro said. “My goal in each role that I play is to support individuals in finding and living their own truth. By doing so, one can experience wellness, living life as the blessing that it is. Each one of us is unique. It’s easy to lose sight of what is essential, caught in the bustle of the day-to-day. It takes time and attention to become consciously aware of what is most important. It requires clearing away untruths that we’ve adopted along the way and deeply listening. By slowing down, we can begin to learn and develop our own language, and experience the support that I believe is there for every one of us. Willingness to look at all aspects of our lives can open doors to receiving the support that we need.”

In order to make a change toward wellness, Porro feels that people need awareness, an action plan, accountability and, in some cases, professional help. Through her life experiences, Porro believes that true wellness is holistic, since when one part of life is out of balance, the whole is affected. Her purpose is to help her fellow neighbors find that security within their lives.

To learn more about Hilda Porro’s law practice, visit www.hildaporrolaw.com.

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GPL Tournament Returns This Month for 10th Anniversary Event

GPL Tournament Returns This Month for 10th Anniversary EventOn and off the field, the International Gay Polo Tournament, hosted by the Gay Polo League in Wellington, keeps getting bigger and better, and the upcoming 10th anniversary celebration is maintaining that tradition.GPL founder Chip McKenney had a vision, and it has given way to something unique.

This year’s four-day extravaganza is highlighted by the return of the festive “GPL Polotini Presents Wigstock!,” an over-the-top pre-party for a purpose on Friday, April 5 at the members-only Mallet Grill at International Polo Club Palm Beach, followed by tournament games featuring the coveted Senator’s Cup and the famed tailgate competition on Saturday, April 6 at IPC’s Isla Carroll field.

“From the beginning, I dreamed that the GPL’s International Gay Polo Tournament would evolve into a destination event for LGBTQ polo players,” said McKenney, who has played every year since the event’s inception. “I believed the concept was unique and would be embraced by the LGBTQ community as something different and special. That said, I never dreamed the event would attract the attention and support of people outside the LGBTQ communities. Nor did I envision that the non-polo, social aspects of the event would evolve into what they are today.”

Several professional polo players, including Joey Casey, Charlie Muldoon, Sugar Erskine and Tiffany Busch, donate their time and skills, quarterbacking the teams.

“Through their involvement, these professional players give the GPL tournament a legitimacy of sport, and their participation helps to elevate awareness of the GPL tournament to the global polo community,” McKenney said.

Casey, who owns the Palm City Polo Club in Boynton Beach, was instrumental in helping McKenney get the event going.

“I read about the GPL and reached out to Chip 10 years ago and brought them to Florida,” said Casey, a fourth-generation polo player.

In that article, McKenney expressed a goal to one day bring the GPL to Wellington because it is the epicenter of polo in North America.

“Joey sent me an e-mail expressing his support and willingness to help make it possible for GPL to come to Florida,” McKenney said. “He offered to organize pros and ponies for our group. Since our initial contact, Joey and his team have been instrumental in the shaping and growth of the league. His club embraced GPL members without hesitation, and we are grateful for his involvement.”

Former 6-goaler Muldoon helped Casey run a polo clinic for GPL players, and that’s where he met McKenney.

“I loved the idea of promoting how inclusive our sport is,” said Muldoon, another multi-generational polo player. “It has been an honor and pleasure to be a part of it. It’s also crazy fun.”

Muldoon said the level of polo has progressed because the original group has improved so much due to Casey’s coaching, as well as the addition of so many new international GPL players.

McKenney began playing polo in 2006 after retiring from show jumping. Schedule permitting, he practices and plays polo three times a week at the Palm City Polo Club. When he began, he only played arena polo. Now he primarily plays on the grass in 6-goal tournaments and an occasional 10-goal tournament.

“My understanding of polo is probably the area I have improved the most,” McKenney said. “Understanding the strategy, the rules and how to contribute as a team member has opened up the game for me. When I first began, I simply ran to the ball and tried to hit it, often failing. Once I understood the offense and defense sides of the game, I enjoyed the sport much more.”

While the action on the field has improved, it is the colorful sideline activities that provides the flair of the event.

“The level of enthusiasm and support non-polo players, gay and straight, demonstrate for the event is remarkable,” McKenney said. “Everyone who has attended our event is thrilled by the tailgate competition, which has become a huge part of the event’s culture, and significantly contributes to the overall experience. Tailgates encourage interaction between all the people who come to the tournament, so our event is inclusive and engaging in ways other events are not.”

Every year brings a new layer of quality to the event, McKenney added, who explained that the biggest difference between the first year and now is the level of play.

“Our first year, most of us were new to the sport of polo, so the matches were a bit slower and less competitive,” McKenney said. “Now, many of our players are solid in their polo skills, which has significantly resulted in more advanced polo matches. To non-polo players, probably the biggest difference is the growth in the number of attendees. The first year, we had approximately 900 people come cheer us on. This year, we anticipate close to 5,000 people who will share the day with us.”

Every year, the GPL chooses a charity partner. This year, the not-for-profit partner is Sage, the nation’s oldest and largest organization dedicated to serving and advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender seniors.

“It is a great feeling to be able to use our event to raise awareness and much-needed funds for an organization that provides services to a segment of our community that is often overlooked, underserved and relatively invisible,” McKenney said.

From the beginning, the tournament was a team effort, with dozens of volunteers and committees organizing the biggest party of the polo season.

“I had the good fortune to align with great people who shared my vision of creating and producing a high-end sporting event within the LGBTQ space,” McKenney said. “Over the past 10 years, so many people have contributed to turning my dream into a reality, and I am well aware that the current success of the GPL tournament is a shared success and the result of a shared vision.”

Tickets for the 10th annual International Gay Polo Tournament and its festivities are currently on sale at www.gaypolo.com/tickets.

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Growing List of Sponsors on Board To Support International Gay Polo Tournament

Growing List of Sponsors on Board To Support International Gay Polo Tournament

When the 10th annual Land Rover Palm Beach International Gay Polo Tournament, presented by RSM US, returns to Wellington from April 4 through April 7, it will bring with it a growing list of sponsors helping to make the event a success.

Land Rover Palm Beach continues its longstanding commitment to the community as the title sponsor of the event for the third year.

“Participating in the annual International Gay Polo Tournament gave us a chance to promote our support for equality actively,” said Matt Adkins, general manager of Land Rover Palm Beach. “We’ve enjoyed working with [Gay Polo League founder] Chip McKenney in the past, and when he approached us about getting involved in the GPL tournament, something we knew was significant to him, we felt honored to take part.”

Whether it’s supporting local high school athletics, the area Boy Scouts council, or the dealership’s strong ties with Furry Friends Adoption Clinic and the Ranch Humane Society of Greater Jupiter/Tequesta, Land Rover Palm Beach enjoys supporting the community.

“The annual GPL tournament is unlike any other event we participate in throughout the year,” Adkins said. “It’s a chance to use our creativity as a company to celebrate diversity in an inclusive and fun way. GPL quickly became our favorite — and most talked about — community event of the year, and it’s one we look forward to every spring. Land Rover has always been a fantastic supporter of polo globally, and this was another way to support the sport locally in Wellington.”

No stranger to equestrian events, Land Rover is a longtime supporter of equestrian sports, with decades of show jumping and event sponsorships. Land Rover Palm Beach’s 2019 status will further solidify its pre-eminence in the equestrian sphere. As an elegant luxury brand, Land Rover Palm Beach aligns perfectly with the vision of the Gay Polo League’s flagship tournament, and the capabilities of Land Rover’s vehicles equally match the rigors of equestrian sport.

GPL is also thrilled to welcome back RSM US LLP — a leading provider of audit, tax and consulting services focused on the middle market — as the event’s presenting sponsor.

“At RSM, we demonstrate our core values of respect, integrity, teamwork, excellence and stewardship every day through our interactions with one another, with our clients, and with our communities,” said RSM’s Kerensa Butler, partner, southeast private equity leader and national pride employee network group leader. “We’re honored to be a part of the Gay Polo League.”

RSM’s goal is to deliver the power of being understood to clients, colleagues and communities. Initially introduced to GPL through a major wealth management client, RSM’s support has grown tremendously over the years, as has the firm’s commitment to the LGBT community.

“Our decision to sponsor GPL started out of support for an organization that one of our clients was passionate about,” said Mike Lin, a manager with RSM Wealth Management. “Over time, our relationship with GPL grew as we learned more about its charitable mission and the potential to align with our commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

Meanwhile, Cherry Knoll Farm returns as the tournament’s VIP tent sponsor. Located at midfield, VIP guests will experience excellence from the ground up, feel the power of the ponies as they race toward the goal posts and be front and center for all the action. The royal treatment includes tableside service throughout the day with a full open bar and a gourmet lunch buffet catered by the International Polo Club Palm Beach.

Cherry Knoll Farm, located in West Grove, Pa., operates on the philosophy of “quality over quantity.” This is true for its great success throughout the Angus industry, as well as high-performance equestrian sports, such as show jumping, dressage and para-dressage. Cherry Knoll Farm owns some of the most esteemed high-performance Grand Prix dressage horses and show jumpers in the industry today.

“Our sponsors represent organizations that proactively support and advance equality and diversity. It is important that we recognize the importance of our LGBTQ allies — the people, brands and companies who enthusiastically embrace and support our community, namely our wonderful sponsors,” McKenney said. “To these people and companies, we extend a heartfelt thanks. We are proud and grateful to be associated with you.”

Other sponsors include Black Hound Sports, Celebrity Cruises, Cedar Crest Stables, Chervo, Consign & Design, David Lerner Associates, Discover the Palm Beaches, Douglas Elliman Real Estate, Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, GJ Racing, Goshen Hill/Caroline Moran, OutClique Magazine, the Palm Beach County Sports Commission, Patricia Quick, RBC Wealth Management, Seminole Casino Coconut Creek, Sperry Tents Miami, Stefano Laviano, the Tackeria and Wölffer Estate Vineyard.

Tickets for the 10th annual International Gay Polo Tournament and its festivities are currently on sale at www.gaypolo.com/tickets. The Gay Polo League is still offering sponsorship opportunities at different levels for the tournament. For more information, contact Chip McKenney at chip@gaypolo.com.

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Miss Rodeo Florida Cara Spirazza Got Her Start In The Wellington Area

Miss Rodeo Florida Cara Spirazza Got Her Start In The Wellington Area

Little did Cara Spirazza know how far her love of horses would bring her. Born and raised in Palm Beach County, Spirazza, now 24, recently competed for and won the title of Miss Rodeo Florida 2019.

The Miss Rodeo Florida competition was based heavily on horsemanship, as well as appearance, personality, interviews and knowledge of rodeo. These are all things Spirazza honed during her time competing in the Wellington area.

Spirazza started riding horses at the age of three and competed in equestrian events throughout her life. As team captain of the University of Central Florida Western Equestrian Team, she helped lead her team to the state championship in 2015.

“My reining trainer taught me so much,” Spirazza recalled. “When we were faced with high-pressure competitions, he would tell us to ‘just ride!’ and have fun. That was helpful advice. It was my trainer who first introduced me to Rodeo Queens.”

As Miss Rodeo Florida, Spirazza has volunteered to be the state’s official representative of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association. Miss Rodeo Florida travels throughout Florida and the country to promote rodeo and the western way of life. Spirazza takes tremendous pride when she rides into the arena carrying the American flag, and also when she rides “fast fly-bys.”

“We need to be able to ride any horse,” she explained. “You never know the temperament of the horse you will be riding. There are no practice runs — we just ride.”

Hospital and school visits, parade participation and community events are just some of the responsibilities of Rodeo Queens. Spirazza is especially compassionate about visiting children at hospitals and often asks rodeo cowboys to join her.

“The rodeo community is very supportive of one another,” she said. “We want to see each other succeed.”

Being raised in a medical family, Spirazza grew up with the satisfaction of helping others. She helped raise and train service dogs for disabled veterans through Paws for Liberty and derived great satisfaction from assisting hippo-therapists, especially when it involved treating disabled children. Spirazza enjoyed the time she spent volunteering locally at the Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center.

Spirazza’s other unique experiences include being in charge of 32 horses at Rocky Springs State Park and giving trail rides, as well as serving as a volunteer firefighter for the Notasulga Volunteer Fire Department when time allows. Her first assignment was to be propelled down an abandoned well shaft to rescue a dog.

Spirazza’s innate altruism and love for animals has led her to rescue many animals and nurse them back to health, and she decided early in life that she wanted to become a veterinarian.

“I am often asked, ‘How do you handle school and rodeo?’ As a second-year veterinary medical student at the Tuskegee University College of Veterinary Medicine in Tuskegee, Ala., I have a very vigorous schedule. I must stay organized. I take my homework on the road… time management is important,” Spirazza said. “I am fortunate that my school is supportive and accommodating of my rodeo schedule, and I am fortunate that the Miss Florida Rodeo Association is equally supportive of my veterinary school schedule and workload. My passion for both veterinary medicine and rodeo is what keeps me going.”

Spirazza plans on becoming a large animal veterinarian with a focus on equine sports medicine after graduation.

At the end of each year, all of the state rodeo queens compete for the title of Miss Rodeo America in Las Vegas, in conjunction with the National Finals Rodeo. The competition has all the glitz and glamour of the Miss America Pageant, but with a western twist — formal colorful gowns with cowboy boots and hats, dazzling crowns and beautiful belt buckles. You won’t see rodeo queens sing and dance. Their true talent is horsemanship.

After graduation, Spirazza said she would “love to get back to barrel racing and one day be a professional barrel racer. It’s such an amazing part of rodeo.”

Her suggestion for young equestrians is to “follow their passion while serving others.”

You can follow her journey on Facebook at Miss Rodeo Florida Association. She’s always willing to help young equestrians and welcomes them to reach out to her.

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Future Polo Star Hope Arellano Aims To Be The Best She Can Be

Future Polo Star Hope Arellano Aims To Be The
Best She Can Be

Polo player Hope Arellano, a rising 15-year-old star who regularly competes with men and women, has been busy making a name for herself in the sport since winning the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship in 2017. She was the youngest player ever to win America’s top prize in women’s polo.

“I’m going to keep striving to be the best that I can,” said Arellano, who has been heralded as a shining example of the next generation of polo players who are blazing a trail promoting the sport worldwide.

Born into a true polo family from Wellington and Aiken, S.C., Arellano played in her first match prenatally. “I was [still] in my mom’s tummy, and the other team said that we were cheating because there were actually five girls on the team, not four,” Arellano explained.

Hope is the daughter of Julio and Meghan Arellano, and sister to Agustin and Lucas Arellano. The whole family participates in the sport. “My dad is a professional polo player, and my mom used to play, but when my brothers started playing, she gave them her horses,” Arellano said. “My mom and my dad are very supportive of my polo career. Since I started competing in tournaments at age 11, my mom even traveled overnight with my horses from Wyoming to Santa Barbara to give me the opportunity to play in the highest-rated tournament on the West Coast.”

Proficiently swinging a mallet at age six, Arellano bypassed the transition from competing as a junior competitor to playing with adults because she began playing in adult tournaments when she was so young. Despite her mature talent, Arellano’s current string of horses gives a hint to her age. She named off the current mounts: “Hot Diggity Dog, Milkshake, BB, Bumble Bee, Cha Ching, Goosebumps, Got Milk, Jackson and Wild Flower.”

In addition to winning the U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship in 2017, Arellano said other times on the field also stand out as highlights. “Winning the 12-goal Pete Bostwick Memorial with my two brothers and my dad,” she recalled. “Last year, I got to substitute for the Daily Racing Form team in the 20-goal season.”

Arellano enjoys the comradery of the sport. “The opportunity to play with players at this level was amazing for my learning experience, and they were so kind to me,” she said. “My favorite thing about polo is the horses… But I also love that polo is an extended family. Wherever you go, you’re welcomed.”

Arellano is currently homeschooled by her mother because it allows her to travel while still getting a great education. “Polo is a traveling sport, so I enjoy the opportunity to go back and forth from Aiken to South Florida,” she said.

The well-organized teenager makes efficient use of her time to balance schoolwork with the equestrian lifestyle and the game of polo. “I’ve always had to multitask, and we had a lot of family animals, like baby sheep, horses, racoons, etc.,” Arellano explained. “I always wanted to get up early to take care of the animals. This created an environment where I’ve never really had to not work hard.”

Currently Arellano is focusing on a new position as well as improving her playing prowess. “I am very excited to be partnering with U.S. Polo Assn. and being one of their global brand ambassadors,” she said. “I am also very focused on trying to learn and become a better player at all times. These two things are of great focus to me right now.”

Being the newest member of U.S. Polo Assn.’s growing roster of global brand ambassadors, she’ll be outfitted in company gear on and off the field. Arellano will post regularly about her polo-related and other daily activities on social media and engage in interviews. The goal is to boost awareness of the sport of polo among young women like herself.

Arellano described some of the goals she holds for women in the sport.

“Women in polo is growing every day, not only in the U.S. but globally,” she said. “Sunny Hale, a pioneer in the game, paved the road for women and created playing opportunities. I’m excited to be playing in this year’s U.S. Open Women’s Polo Championship, which was recently moved to Wellington. It’ll be exciting to see the women come together to build awareness.”

Arellano is also featured in a “Women In Polo” digital and television show. “I also recently participated in an upcoming documentary-type show with Palm Beach County and U.S. Polo Assn., covering women in the sport and their lives on-and-off the field,” she said.

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