More than 650 guests, dressed in red and gold, came out for the 11th annual JustWorld International Gala on Jan. 17 at Belle Herbe Farm in Wellington.
As a nod to the year of the horse, the night was charged with Asian ambiance, as human dragons and horses joined in dance, presentations were made, and guests enjoyed the live and silent auctions.
JustWorld International raised more than $440,000 to continue its mission to act as a catalyst for positive change in the developing world.
Presenting sponsors were Caryl Philips and Frank Zeiss. Whole Foods Market of Wellington sponsored the food for the evening, which ranged from edamame and spring rolls to the main entrées and desserts. The Grille Fashion Cuisine provided the cocktails while also hosting the JustWorld International After Party following the conclusion of the event.
Guests were also each presented with gift bags from JustWorld's newest co-branded merchandise sponsor, Masters Equestrian.
Rocco Mangel, owner of Rocco's Tacos, and equestrian commentator Steven Wilde were co-emcees for the event. The audience watched William Betaille's documented video showing the work of JustWorld and the projects it has created across the world.
Jessica Newman, founder and executive director of JustWorld International, introduced the winners of the inaugural JustWorld Leg Up Award: Jane Tidball of Thunderbird Show Park, Farah Rizvi, Alexander Zetterman, Caitlin Ziegler, Phillip Rozon, Ali Lieberman, Ashley Holzer and Nic Roldan.
The last of the awards was presented to Colombia's Daniel Bluman. Newman introduced Antorchas de Vida, the newest addition to the JustWorld project partners from Medellin, Colombia.
Bluman was inspired by the work JustWorld had done in Guatemala, Honduras and Cambodia so he pledged to help begin funding the new project in his home country. Others in the audience matched and added to Bluman's pledge.
It was a spontaneous auction item that hailed the largest bidding frenzy as Nick Skelton and Laura Kraut announced in the final hour that the Olympic Gold Medalists would auction themselves off for lessons. Horseware Ireland's Tom MacGuinness won the package. Kraut had won one of the bids for professional polo players Nic Roldan, Brandon Phillips and Kris Kampsen.
Founded in 2003 by Newman, JustWorld International is a not-for-profit, humanitarian organization, which funds life-changing nutrition, health and hygiene, education, as well as leadership and cultural development programs for impoverished children in Cambodia, Honduras and Guatemala. There are currently more than 500 Rider and Technical Official Ambassadors representing 40 different countries, whose efforts to support JustWorld's projects have raised in excess of $6 million to date.