Abanner day: Horses and the Handicapped new arena hosts Broward County Equestrian Special Olympics
More than 250 people were on hand as Horses and the Handicapped of South Florida celebrated the grand opening of the covered Vegso Family Arena and the return of Broward County’s Equestrian Special Olympics. “This truly was a magical day,” said Chris Davell, chairman of the board of Horses and the Handicapped. “It was really heartwarming to see our young athletes beaming with pride as they rode inside one of the few covered arenas in Broward County. This new arena gives us the opportunity to expand our program by as much as 25 % and offer more students an opportunity to benefit from therapeutic riding.”
Under construction since February, the new $550,000 arena at the Horses and the Handicapped riding center at Tradewinds Park in Coconut Creek was funded through private donations, including large contributions from the Vegso Family Foundation, The Wasie Foundation and Jim and Marina Cheney. Support for the project also came from the Junior League of Boca Raton, Craig and Lisa Elmore of Hardrives and Mike Perkins of Irrigation Design Group.
Prior to the Special Olympics opening ceremonies, Anne Vegso was joined at the entrance to the arena for the ceremonial ribbon cutting by Linda Cooke and Jen Klaassens of the Wasie Foundation, Ronald McDonald whose Ronald McDonald House Charities donated to the scholarship fund and Chris Davell.
This year’s Equestrian Special Olympics on October 4, the first in Broward County in many years, featured 18 athletes competing in the Equestrian and Trails competition. Athletes, who competed in groups based on skill levels, were judged on their ability to perform fundamental riding techniques and, in the Trails competition, on their ability to navigate horse trails.
“It has been very gratifying to see how much effort each student put into preparing for this event as well as their excitement. I’m so proud to be a Special Olympics coach and instructor – these athletes were inspiring!” said Mandy DeBord, executive director of Horses and the Handicapped of South Florida.
For more information, visit www.handhmagic.org.
Jen Klaassens, left, student Mariah Harris with Linda Cooke
Chris Davell, chairman of the board of Horses and the Handicapped and Anne Vegso of the Vegso Family Foundation
Athlete Cassidy Giordanella
Scott Rubin, Special Olympics athlete and flag bearer