By Kristine Holloran
Sunday, July 14th was a beautiful day in New England. Actually, it was a perfect day for golf and the inaugural tournament to benefit youth riders throughout Region 8. The event featured top line merchandise from lead sponsor Titleist and a chance to win a new truck from “hole-in-one” sponsor Flood Ford, East Greenwich Rhode Island. The event was a huge financial success and infused an unprecedented amount of funding for Region 8 youth-focused educational events and support for the Adequan®/FEI North American Youth Championships (NAYC) Junior and Young Rider Teams.
Anyone involved with fundraising knows an event of this magnitude doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, it was 2017 when Gwyneth McPherson, Jennifer Dillon, and Kelly Hendrick held an informal brainstorming session that became the catalyst. The goal was to advance dressage education throughout New England and orchestrate fundraising efforts to help offset the high-cost of top-quality clinicians and programs. The group also acknowledged the desire to subsidize the costs of our region’s teams attending the North American Youth Championships. Jennifer’s father ran a successful Big Brother/Big Sister Golf Tournament for many years, so she proposed a path where she had personally seen extraordinary dividends. As luck would have it, Kelly’s family owns and operates a top-rated 18-hole course—Meadow Brook in Richmond, Rhode Island—nestled right in the heart of Region 8. “We were a little uncertain joining an equine event with a golf event but I think in the end it worked out because everybody knew what their job was. We simply needed to fill the golf course with golfers and the Region 8 riders just needed to gather sponsors. That is one of the reasons why it was so successful,” explains Kelly. “Next year our goal is to get more area riders involved with marketing and selling sponsorships.”
While the event was originally scheduled for early May, an unexpectedly long, cold, and very wet spring convinced the group to postpone until July 14. With some extra lead-time, efforts continued to secure even more sponsors, golfers, and volunteers. Fundraising efforts included the sale of tee signs, banners, contest sponsors, and raffle tickets. Area riders Paige Hendrick and Tessa Holloran combed the course selling tickets and during lunch introduced the golfers to dressage with a brief overview followed by a heartfelt “thank you” for their support. According to Paige, “I always enjoy being involved with any event or fundraising effort where I’m with my riding friends. It’s great to work together off our horses once in a while, and this is a great cause that will directly increase our opportunities.”
Kristine Holloran, who assisted with the marketing and sponsor activities, added, “We are extremely grateful that the professional staff at Meadow Brook handled the overall golfing logistics as well as the planning and organization for the venue and meals. Our local vendor Impact Custom Apparel also did a fantastic job on all the signage and banners.”
Jennifer, the USDF Region 8 Youth Coordinator, couldn’t have been happier with the outcome. “This was a great start for our region, and it wouldn’t have happened without the generosity of Meadow Brook Golf Course and Kelly Hendrick. A portion of the money raised supported the 2019 Junior and Young Rider Teams at the recent North American Youth Championships in Old Salem, New York, and the remaining funds will be held in reserve to supplement educational opportunities for our youth riders at clinics and training sessions being planned for 2020 and 2021.”
The group is already planning another tournament in 2020 and will soon announce sponsorship and donation information. For all the latest on the USDF Region 8 Youth, please follow on Facebook at @region8youth.