(April 29th, 2023) The Equestrian Legends Celebrity Polo Match & Gala, presented by Valentino, to benefit The Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis was held on April 29th at the National Polo Club in Wellington, Florida. The event featured a cocktail reception, a silent and live auction as guests witnessed an equestrian demonstration from Olympic and World Champions in the disciplines of Show Jumping, Dressage and Polo.
The equestrian demonstration was followed by an exquisite sit-down dinner with wine and champagne pairings from Penfolds as several influential and inspirational people from the equestrian world were honored. Among those honored were Event Chairman and Co-Founder of Outback Steakhouse Tim Gannon who received The Buoniconti Fund Award. Philanthropist and two-time US 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 Babington.
The three Equestrian Legend awardees included: Robert Jeffrey Dover who is the most honored dressage rider in the United States. Jeff Hall has won every high-goal trophy in high goal U.S. Polo, including the most prestigious U.S. Open. 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 over 20 years.
Marc Buoniconti, President, The Buoniconti Fund and The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis was on had to share his story and discuss why it is important to support the research efforts at The Miami Project. Dr. Barth Green, Co-Founder, The Miami Project thanked all the supporters and discussed advances being made to help those living with paralysis and other neurological injuries, diseases, and disorders. Stephanie Sayfie Aagaard served as Mistress of Ceremonies for the evening and helped auction off several one-of-a-kind items in support of the cause. A few of the items included a 14 KT white gold Riviera Diamond necklace donated by Tibor Stern Diamonds valued at $37,000, a Penfolds Napa Valley Experience with a 3 day / 2 nights stay at the private Penfolds residence in Rutherford, California valued as priceless since it is an invitation only experience, and a Concierge Class a 10-to-11-night Cruise for two persons onboard Celebrity Cruise Lines donated by Tareq Salahi valued at $10,000.
The evening’s Presenting Sponsor was Valentino, with Penfolds and Charlotte Rawa supplying fabulous wine and champagne for the evening. Our Polo Team Sponsors included The Armour Group at J.P. Morgan Wealth Management and Verde CO2. Music at the event featured the remarkable ensemble band Groove Republik.
In addition to the honorees, additional celebrity attendees included: Polo Player Michael Armour, Olympic Long jump Champion Bob Beamon, NFL Hall of Fame Linebacker Harry Carson, Polo announcer and President of the USPA Tony Coppola, Indy 500 winner and CART Champion Gil deFerran, Former Miami Dolphins star lineman Jeff Dellenbach, Actor Colin Egglesfield, World Series Champion Pitcher Scott Erickson, Polo Player Charles Fridge, Polo Player Chris Gannon, NHRA and Motorsports Hall of Fame of America member Darrell Gwynn, Polo Player Todd Minikus, World Renown Australian Showjumper Ben Meredith, Polo Player Stephen Orthwein, Olympic and World Cup jumping course designer Leopoldo Palacios, Emmy Nominated Actor Aiden Turner, Polo Player Martin Valent, Hall of Fame Sports Broadcaster Lesley Visser, Former Dolphins and Patriots lineman Jed Weaver.