The Equestrian Legends Celebrity Polo Match & Gala, presented by Valentino, to benefit the Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis was held Saturday, April 29 at the National Polo Center-Wellington. The event featured a cocktail reception, a silent and live auction as guests witnessed an equestrian demonstration from top riders in the disciplines of show jumping, dressage and polo.
The equestrian demonstration was followed by a 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 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 show jumping legend Kevin Babington received the Inspiration Award, which was accepted by his wife Dianna Babington.
The three Equestrian Legend awardees included Robert Dover, who is the most honored dressage rider in the United States; Jeff Hall, who has won every high-goal trophy in U.S. polo; and Kris Kampsen, a three-time U.S. Arena Open champion who has played polo for more than 25 years.
Marc Buoniconti, president of the Buoniconti Fund and the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis was on hand to share his story and discuss why it is important to support these research efforts. Dr. Barth Green, co-founder of 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.
The presenting sponsor was Valentino, with Penfolds and Charlotte Rawa supplying fabulous wine and champagne for the evening. Polo team sponsors included the Armour Group at J.P. Morgan Wealth Management and Verde CO2. Music at the event featured the ensemble band Groove Republik.
In 1985, Dr. Barth Green, a world-renowned neurosurgeon, and Nick Buoniconti, an NFL Hall of Fame linebacker, joined forces and founded the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis after Nick’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 fund is a nonprofit organization with a mission to raise funds and awareness to help the Miami Project achieve its primary focus. For more information, visit www.thebuonicontifund.com.