Charities Horse Happenings

Challenge of the Americas Gala Brings out the Stars to Benefit Breast Cancer Research Foundation

Wellington, FL- March 11, 2013- The Jim Brandon Center Equestrian Center was draped in a hue of pink as the venue played host to the Challenge of the Americas, a benefit for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation through partner Play for P.I.N.K. The event came back stronger than ever after a year’s hiatus.

Orchestrated by Mary Ross, who lost her mother to breast cancer, the event included musical quadrilles, pas de deux and reining freestyles by riders among the “Who’s Who” of top equestrian competitors in the United States, Canada, Latin America and Europe.

“It was an outstanding evening,” said Ross. “The riders were absolutely super. All of them worked so hard to raise money for breast cancer research.”

Mary Ross and Lou Alterio who sang the national anthem.

Superstars of the equestrian world were on hand to enjoy an evening of intricately choreographed dressage performances and freestyle (bridle-less) reining performances, scrumptious Aaron’s Catering cuisine, music, dancing and great company.

Top row L-R-Tom Lavell, Devon Kane, Jordan Hayman and Terri Kane, 
Bottom row L-R- Mike Denney, Scott Zahner, Carol Lavell and Dori Poppe

The winning Team International sponsored by the Seley Parker Group of Merrill Lynch included Todd Flettrich, Susanne Hamilton, Devon Kane, Nancy Later, Sharon McCusker and Cherri Reiber.


“The Wellington crowd is always welcoming,” said Matt Ketcham of Purina, who sponsored Team USA of the Challenge of the Americas. “Purina is always interested in supporting programs like the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. It is always good to mix good people and animals because animals make people better.”


Top row L-R-Kimberly James, Matt Ketcham  Jason Gordon and Mary Beth Gordon
Bottom row- L-R Molly Malony, Barbara Ketcham and Katelyn Kok

Pamela Goodrich, Chris Hickey, Betsy Steiner, Bill Warren, George Williams and John Zopatti made up Purina Team USA, who performed to American rock and roll classics.


One of the most anticipated events of the evening was the return to the saddle of Mason Phelps, President of Phelps Media Group and an alternate for the United States Olympic Team in 1968, who had been out of the irons for 15 years. Phelps performed a Pas de Deux with Olympic Bronze Medalist Debbie McDonald to a high-energy mix of disco music, which generated cheers and applause from a delighted audience.

Debbie McDonald and Mason Phelps

“Debbie and I are thrilled to have helped the cause,” said Phelps. “Mary is a dear friend and this event has been one of the highlights of the season. We’re glad it’s back.”


For more information about the Challenge, visit their website at www.challengeoftheamericas.comand follow their Facebook page at

The Challenge of the Americas Beneficiaries

Play for P.I.N.K.




The Breast Cancer Research Foundation