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The AHJF's Emergency Relief Fund Strikes a Victory with it's Bowling for Equestrians
Diane De Rosa
Over 300 equestrians went bowling for the American Hunter-Jumper Foundation’s Emergency Relief Fund at Greenacres Bowl in Lake Worth, Florida on Sunday night, February 18th. Equestrians came to enjoy a different type of sport and to support this worthy cause and in the end they had more fun than anyone anticipated. Families, barns and individuals from as young as tiny tots to seasoned veterans ate, drank, threw bowling balls, won raffle prizes, played video games and more during this fun-filled event. This was just another example of how the AHJF continues to be creative, always thinking of new and different ways to raise money for its Emergency Relief Fund.
"The AHJF Bowling Extravaganza was a great hit! The people that came really enjoyed themselves. I think it was such a different environment for all of us that we could really let loose and have a great time. I particularly enjoyed eating all the things I never let myself eat!” commented AHJF President Geoff Teall.
Horsemen, women and children began arriving at 6:30 to try their hand at an evening they were hoping was going to be filled with strikes and spares. Yet in the end it really didn’t matter how well they bowled because they went away sharing a great time with family and friends.
When the evening was over approximately $60,000 was raised for the AHJF’s Emergency Relief Fund (ERF), which was formed to assist equestrians in their time of financial need. Over the past 11 years the AHJF has distributed close to $170,000 through its ERF. The funding of this program comes from private donors, WCHR member event shows and benefit events such as Bowling for Equestrians.
This novel idea was the creation of event Chair and AHJF Advisory Committee Member, Katie Robinson. Another organization she is involved with (Center for Children in New York City) had a very successful bowling fundraiser and Katie offered to develop a similar concept for the AHJF. “Everybody loves a good night being able to relax and have some fun. It’s great to be able to get out and have some down time with your family and friends and also raise money for a good cause,” commented Robinson.
Executive Director Michele Perla was thrilled at the turnout which kept her and her assistant occupied for over an hour busily handing people wristbands, raffle tickets and t-shirts. “This is the first dedicated fundraiser for the Emergency Relief Fund,” commented Perla. “Since the AHJF was founded in 1992 with a mission of being innovative, we believe this night of bowling fulfills that goal. It’s a creative, new and fresh approach to fundraising.”
“Bowling Night was a real blast for everyone, for all the horse show kids and all the adults acting like kids,” commented Kim Tudor, who helped organize the event. “Finally, a fun horse show party where the dress code was a tacky bowling shirt and groovy shoes; I'm already designing our team shirts for Bowling Night 2008. Thanks for a great night!”
A special thank you also goes to the Social and Junior Committees, who helped encourage individuals and barns to support this worthy cause. Members of these committees include Rob Bielefeld, Carol Cone, Bruce Duchossoiss, Chris Ewanouski, Stephanie & John Ingram, Kim & Charlie Jacobs, Joan & Louis Jacobs, Louise Serio, Emily & Ken Smith, Geoff Teall, Kim Tudor, Brad Wolf, Tom Wright, Melissa & Charlotte Jacobs, Laura Beth King Kaplin, Phoebe & Grace Robinson, Spencer Smith, Allison & Ashley Toffolon, and Avery Waite.
Many of the Committee members attended as well as a variety of people from both the hunter and jumper worlds, including show jumpers Mark Leone, Christian Currey (and his mom Agneta) and Rusty Holzer with his wife Ashley (who is a dressage Olympic veteran), hunter rider and trainer Sandy Ferrell, pony hunter rider Megan Davis with her brother and parents (making this a family affair). A number of barns also donned matching outfits including Louise Serio’s Derbydown, S. Craig Lindner’s All Seasons Farm, Ken and Emily Smith’s Ashland Farm, The Jacobs’ Family’s Deeridge Farm, and Geoff Teall’s Montoga Farm.
The AHJF was formed in 1992 to further the development of the equestrian sport of show hunter rider competition by providing a national office to organize, coordinate and support hunter rider and show jumping equestrian competition. Other programs of the AHJF include the World Championship Hunter Rider Awards, AHJF Educational Programs, the AHJF BSA Inc. 401k and Profit Sharing Plan. The AHJF also hosts the annual AHJF Hunter Classic Spectacular in Florida (February 24, 2007), the Legacy Cup (May 9-20, 2007 in Kentucky) and the Monarch International's Show Circuit Magazine Professional WCHR Finals (October 5, 2007 in Upper Marlboro, MD). This year a WCHR World Cup Hunter Challenge will be showcased for the second time at the World Cup in Las Vegas on Saturday, April 21.
For more information or to make a tax donation to the AHJF Emergency Relief Fund to help fellow horsemen, call the AHJF at 508-835-8813, email AHJF@earthlink.net, visit their web site: www.ahjf.org or write: AHJF Relief Fund, PO Box 369, West Boylston, MA 01583.