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The UPHA American Royal Raises Over $16,000 in Inaugural “Pink Ribbon Class.”



 


Gayle Lampe and CH Callaway’s Born To Win,

Ladies Five-Gaited National Champions and

winners of the inaugural “Pink Ribbon” class.
(photo by Avis)

 

On November 16, 2007, the UPHA American Royal National Championship Horse Show presented the first-ever “Pink Ribbon Class” and the horse show community “showed pink” for the day to raise over $16,000 for breast cancer research.  “The response to this event has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic,” reported Ann Rowland, chair of the American Royal Horse Show committee in Kansas City.  “Everyone came together, each person did their bit to make this a terrific success.”  The originator of the event, Kayce Bell, added: “This was just a kernel of an idea last spring – a ‘what if’ conversation between Jimmy Robertson and me as I was recovering from my own surgery and getting back into riding and driving.  We have been truly humbled by the way everyone embraced this idea and made it into something bigger and better than we ever imagined it could be.  The Royal was the perfect place for the Pink Ribbon Class to come to life.” 

 

In the months leading up to the UPHA American Royal National Championship Horse Show, the Ladies 5-Gaited National Championship class was declared a “Pink Ribbon Class” and the Saddlebred community was invited to sponsor the class in celebration of a friend or family member who has battled breast cancer.  Over $13,000 was pledged and raised through these sponsorships.  On the night of the class, those women who were honored by particular sponsors and able to be at the horse show were welcomed into center ring where they watched the class and presented the trophy.  For Peggy Webber, this was a particular thrill.  She got to watch her old college roommate, good friend and “Pink Ribbon Class” sponsor, Gayle Lampe, ride Callaway’s Born to Win to the Ladies Five-Gaited National Championship and then stand next to her for the winning picture.  Of course Gayle Lampe was also particularly thrilled by her participation in the class:  “I always love to ride my horse and this is the division we tend to compete in.  But tonight I got to do something more; tonight I rode for Peggy raised money for breast cancer research.”  

 

The Pink Ribbon Class itself proved to be only part of the effort to raise money to fight a disease that has affected so many in our horse show community.  Throughout the day, barns, exhibitors, grooms and spectators found other creative ways to participate in an event that seemed to grow and gather strength as the Ladies 5-Gaited class approached.  In the morning, volunteers from around the country – Kayce Bell and Andrea Bittker of Infinity Stables, Betsy Pankey of Colorado, Sandy Backer, Gayle Lampe and Alice Rowland of Missouri – came together to distribute pink balloons and ribbons to barns for a donation.  Stables “showed pink” all day and the aisles were punctuated with pink balloons floating above the stabling.  An additional $1500 was raised in this impromptu effort.  Vendors put out their pink merchandise so that Grand Hall was a blitz of pink, and McCallister Stables of Overland Park, Kansas donated pink ribbon pins that were sold by various vendors to raise an additional $220. Merlina and Pedro de la Torre decided to organize the grooms, putting up pink flyers describing the event in Spanish. At the end of the day, $95 from Hispanic caretakers was added to the pot.     

 

By the start of the show that night, it seemed that every person and every horse was wearing pink. The American Royal offered to donate $1 for everyone in the audience who was wearing pink and $5 for everyone in center ring who was wearing pink on Friday night. Cheryl Innes and Beth Snider secured pink ties and cummerbunds for the tuxedos of the horse show judges and officials.  Pink boutonnieres happily clashed with the red jackets of ringmasters Bill Whitley and John Frye. Exhibitors added touches of pink throughout the night –pink ties, pink ribbons braided into horse and pony manes, even pink racing silks – and the anticipation and the fund grew.  By 8:30 pm, Peter Fenton announced that the American Royal had already counted over 400 people wearing pink and that they would, at that point, donate $1000 to the fund as a result.   

 

Excitement mounted as the Pink Ribbon Class approached, and those around the ring were not disappointed by the grand finale of the night.  As the band struck up the theme from the Pink Panther, a golf cart decorated in pink ribbons entered the arena carrying the honorees of the Pink Ribbon class.  These women – Chris Kaplan, Jonnie Surland, Peggy Webber, Kayce Bell, Diane Mead, Virginia Burbank, Reneaux Collins and Fern Bittner – were celebrated and honored by sponsors of the class for their courage and strength in battling breast cancer, and they received a standing ovation as they joined the officials in center ring to watch the class.  Peter Fenton also read the names of honorees who could not be present: Julie Gates, Nan Adye, Fay Mullins McCurley, Charlotte Young Williams, Valerie Richardson, Barbara Morris, Anne Boyd, Karen Stout, Harriet Jones, Caryl Brammer, Lauren Heller, Teri Burke, Sue Breiner, Mary Catherine Pankey and Ena Felder.  For a brief moment of quiet, those in the audience were left to their own thoughts and memories, and then, in that voice which builds drama better than any voice around, Peter Fenton declared: “And now with our honorees in center ring, we turn our attention to the in-gate where 10 more women are waiting to enter the ring.  They will ride tonight to win the Ladies 5-Gaited National Championship; they will ride tonight to celebrate someone they love; they will ride tonight with hope and determination to find a cure.”

 

The horn sounded and the gates opened to one of the most competitive and exciting classes of the show year. Chris Treston rode It’s Star Spangled Hammer; Laura Lassiter rode in on Dinero; Cheryl Sotrop was on Worthy’s American Society; Melissa Moore blazed in on (SA) SJ Space Buckaneer; Autumn Hunt Harrier rode Meet You Match; Nicole Harrison was riding Lady Bella; Barbara Gaynor came in on Battle Rattle; Jackie Hale on Simeon, and Tammy Devore atop Out With the Ladies.  Each woman came through the gate with some touch of pink.  All of them sported their pink ribbon lapel pin donated by Churchwell’s Jewelry.  All of them helped to raise money in the fight against breast cancer simply by entering and competing in the class. Last in the gate, welcomed as always by the roar of the crowd, was Gayle Lampe and CH Callaway’s Born to Win, Gayle wearing a beautiful pink coat that seemed made for the occasion.  By the end of a dramatic and hard-fought class, with the ribbon placings announced in reverse, it was Melissa Moore on Space Buccaneer and Gayle on Born to Win waiting at the end of the ring to hear the announcement. 

 

When Peter called Gayle’s name and number, the crowd erupted again and Born to Win came forward for the victory portrait.  That photo captured perhaps the most meaningful moment of the night.  Nina Pointer and Tony Justin of Garden City Bank, the sponsors of the class, stepped forward with the flowers. They were joined by L.A. Bass of Churchwell’s Jewelry who presented the brooch he donated and designed for the winner of the Pink Ribbon Class.  But most importantly, the honorees of the class came forward to join in the celebration of Gayle’s ride and what had been accomplished in the show ring that night.  As Peggy Webber stood next to Gayle and Born to Win, Gayle presented her with the winner’s brooch, asking that she wear it to remember the Pink Ribbon Class and honor their friendship.  Peter Fenton asked everyone in the audience to stand for the victory pass, declaring it a “shared victory” as together the horse show community raised over $16,000 toward the fight against breast cancer. 

The feeling around the ring and back in the barns that night was one of accomplishment and community.  “The UPHA American Royal Horse Show has found a new way to bring people together, both to do some good for a cause that has affected so many of us, and to put on an exciting show.  We hope we can do this again next year,” Ann Rowland commented.  She thanked the major sponsors of the inaugural Pink Ribbon Class: Gayle Lampe, the McGinnis family, Kayce Bell, Wynter Reneaux Collins, Ed Perwien, Terri Chancellor, Valiant Stables, Anthony Mead, Mary Anne Cronan, Sandy Lilly for Mercer Springs Farm, Kris Price for Independent Equine Agents, Andrea Bittker, Infinity Stables, Churchwell’s Jewelry, Garden City Bank and the American Royal Association.  But Rowland stressed that the Pink Ribbon Class was not something put on by major sponsors or the Horse Show Committee alone: “this grew far beyond what we thought up and organized.   People came up with their own ideas, such as asking a local formal company to donate pink bow ties for the judges or braiding their pony’s mane with a pink ribbon.”  Rowland added, “Every time I turned around someone was coming forward with another donation, big or small, another thought about someone’s mother or sister who should be honored and remembered that day. The Pink Ribbon Class showed all of us how creative, close-knit and generous our horse show community can be.  We saw the best of everybody that day.”


Peggy Webber (left) of St. Louis and Gayle Lampe

feed a peppermint to CH Callaway’s Born to Win.

 Lampe, professor of equestrian science at William

Woods University, dedicated her win to Webber,

her lifelong friend and former college roommate.

(Photo by Richard Webber provided

by William Woods University)

 




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