Equestrian Legends Celebrity Polo

Equestrian Legends Celebrity Polo Hundreds Enjoy A Special Night To Support A Cure For Paralysis

By Sydney Jones 

The National Polo Center-Wellington played host to a memorable event — the Equestrian Legends Celebrity Polo Match & Gala — on Saturday, April 29. Presented by Valentino to benefit the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, the special evening featured a cocktail reception, silent and live auctions, as guests witnessed an equestrian demonstration from Olympians and world champions in the disciplines of show jumping, dressage and polo. The equestrian demonstration was followed by an elegant sit-down dinner.

In 1985, world-renowned neurosurgeon Dr. Barth A. Green and NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Nick Buoniconti joined forces and founded the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis after Buoniconti’s son, Marc, sustained a spinal cord injury during a college football game. Since then, research at the Miami Project has changed the landscape of knowledge and therapeutic strategies for spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury.

Committed to finding a cure for paralysis resulting from spinal cord injury and to seeing millions worldwide walk again, the Buoniconti family established the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis in 1992. The Buoniconti Fund is a nonprofit organization with a mission is to raise funds and awareness to help the Miami Project achieve its primary focus — to repair and restore function to the injured and diseased nervous system, thereby improving the quality of life of patients throughout the world.

On a night set to raise funds and awareness for paralysis, several honorees were recognized for their influence in equestrian sport. Among those honored were Event Chair Tim Gannon, co-founder of Outback Steakhouse, who received the Buoniconti Fund Award. Philanthropist and two-time U.S. Open champion and game MVP Dawn Jones received the Philanthropy Award, and Irish Olympic show jumping legend Kevin Babington received the Inspiration Award, which was accepted by his wife Dianna.

The three Equestrian Legend awardees were Robert Jeffrey Dover, the most honored dressage rider in the United States, as well as Jeff Hall, who has won every high-goal trophy in U.S. Polo, including the prestigious U.S. Open, and Kris Kampsen, a three-time U.S. Arena Open champion, who has played polo for more than 25 years and is still playing competitive polo at the highest level, maintaining his handicap of six goals for more than 20 years.

Along with the honorees, many celebrities were also in attendance to witness the spectacular evening. Some of them included polo players Michael Armour, Charles Fridge, Chris Gannon, Stephen Orthwein and Martin Valent, U.S. show jumping star Todd Minikus, Olympic long jump champion Bob Beamon, NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Harry Carson, polo announcer and UPSA President Tony Coppola, Indianapolis 500 winner and CART Champion Gil deFerran, former Miami Dolphins lineman Jeff Dellenbach, actor Colin Egglesfield, World Series champion pitcher Scott Erickson, NHRA and Motorsports Hall of Fame of America member Darrell Gwynn, world renowned Australian show jumper Ben Meredith, Olympic and world cup jumping course designer Leopoldo Palacios, Emmy-nominated actor Aiden Turner, Hall of Fame sports broadcaster Lesley Visser, and former Dolphins and Patriots lineman Jed Weaver.

Not only was a great time had by all, but the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis and the Miami Project can continue their research to better serve those who have been impacted by paralysis with the money raised and recognition received at the Equestrian Legends Celebrity Polo Match & Gala. In a sport where major injuries can happen, that is money and time well spent.

Visit www.thebuonicontifund.com to learn more about the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis and the Miami Project.