By BROOKE WANSER
Multitudes turned out on a perfectly sunny Saturday afternoon to watch the Nissan-sponsored team take on the AshBlue team at the 21st Chukkers for Charity polo match at Riverview Farm in Grassland.
The charity event has been around ever since Riverview owner Orrin Ingram and neighboring Greymar farm owner Robert Lipman, both former competitive polo players and equine enthusiasts, dreamed it up.
“I was on the board of the Rochelle Center [for adults with developmental disabilities] at the time, and they were wanting to do a golf tournament,” Ingram said. “I told them I was sick and tired of golf tournaments, and I bet other people might be sick and tired of golf tournaments. Let’s do something totally different and give people a reason to come out,” Ingram said before heading off to play in the match.
This year took on special significance for Ingram, as he competed for the event’s sponsor team, Nissan, with his 20-year-old daughter, Virginia. “That’s one of the coolest feelings in the world, to play with your daughter.” Ingram said. “She can yell and scream at me, but I have to be careful I don’t do the same to her,” he laughed.
The Ingrams were joined by Wes Finlayson and James Armstrong playing for team Nissan, while the AshBlue team was comprised of Lexie Armstrong, Zulu Scott-Barnes, Wesley “Whistle” Uys and Stevie Orthwein.
Though last year’s event suffered from a mid-game deluge, guests were treated to perfect weather Saturday afternoon. “I don’t have to worry about rain, I’m not gonna be really hot, and the crowd’s gonna be comfortable,” Ingram said.
Tailgaters decorated tents to the event’s theme of “Up Up and Away!” and partied across the field from the patron and sponsor tent. Patrons could participate in a silent auction with items including jewelry, liquor packages, and guitars signed by Brad Paisley and Lady Antebellum. A classic car show at halftime drew everyone together on the field, but the children’s stick pony race was the highlight.
After the match ended with a 10-4 win for the Nissan team, patrons were treated to a dinner including steak Diane, grilled asparagus with Hollandaise sauce, and un-stuffed chicken Saltimbocca.
Dr. Starling Evins, the chief medical officer of the Williamson Medical Center, an event sponsor, said the match was always enjoyable. “We have lots of donors who attend this event and it’s always nice to see them in a social situation,” he said.
Proceeds from the match will benefit Saddle Up!, a nonprofit that provides children with disabilities therapeutic activities with horses. Funds will also support the Rochelle Center, a nonprofit whose mission is to provide support to help adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities live as independently as possible.
Laurie Kush, the newly-named executive director of Saddle Up!, said the attendees appreciate the mission of the two organizations: “I think it’s an awesome way to gather the community and bring everybody under one tent who understands what children with disabilities are able to do,” she said.
“So many people focus on the disability rather than the person behind the disability, and I think we need to shift our focus to what people are able to do in the saddle instead of what they can’t do.”