Wellington, Fla. – March 31, 2017 – Nic Roldan’s 2nd Annual Sunset Polo & White Party, hosted by Mark and Katherine Bellissimo to benefit Brooke USA was a true success last Friday, March 24. The standout event raised more than $275,000 for working equines and the humans who depend on them in some of the world’s underprivileged countries. The sold-out event, held at The Wanderers Club, featured an exhilarating sunset polo match, pool-side white party, as well as resounding support from the Wellington and Palm Beach social scenes.
“Brooke USA is thrilled with the support received from the equestrian community in Wellington, Florida, as well as supporters who traveled from afar. Tonight we had close to 1,000 people attend our event to raise money for working equines in some of the poorest countries across the globe,” said Brooke USA’s Executive Director Emily Dulin. “We are very grateful for the enthusiasm of all those present, especially event hosts Mark and Katherine Bellissimo, and Brooke USA Ambassador Nic Roldan. We are looking forward to producing an even greater event in 2018.”
An exciting sunset polo game kicked off the charity event with Nic Roldan, rated at 8 goals, leading Team Tito’s Handmade Vodka to a tie game against Team Aithon Capital Management. Grant Ganzi (2), Henry Porter (1) and Justin Daniels (1) rounded out Team Tito’s Handmade Vodka, while Team Aithon Capital was comprised of Nick Manifold (4), Brandon Phillips (5), Timmy Dutta (0.5), Tony Calle (2) and Roldan’s good friend and first time polo player Darren Marotta (-2).
Players had a fantastic time in the fun-filled exhibition match, in which every player scored at least once, with the score going back and forth to finish as a tie-game. Ganzi and Dutta each scored three goals for their respective teams and first-time polo player Marotta made the last goal to tie the game. Spectators enjoyed an enthusiastic play-by-play of the game by Toby Wayman and Tony Coppola, and were thrilled when international show jumper Jessica Springsteen took to the field to play the final chukker for Team Tito’s Handmade Vodka.
It was in fact, Springsteen’s horse “X-Box”, owned by Pony Express, who was awarded Best Playing Pony. The award was presented by Jonathan Russel, CEO of Cowdray Estate. The MVP Award was presented to Marotta, and was presented by Tregothnan Tea CEO Jonathon Jones. The overall trophy was presented by Her Majesty’s Consul General David Prodger of the British Consulate in Miami, Florida.
Event host Roldan was thrilled with the polo game. “The sunset polo game was a lot of fun,” he said. “We had a great group of guys, a mix of some of my good friends as well as younger players, who all went above and beyond with the support of the event in great spirits. It was an entertaining game and fun to be able to include Jess and my good friend Darren [Marotta]. Everyone had big smiles on their faces and everyone scored at least once, resulting in a draw game – All were happy, and it was a huge success.”
Team Aithon Capital’s Brandon Phillips enjoyed the game and the evening. “It’s an exhibition,” he said. “It’s really fun to participate and support Nic [Roldan] and the Brooke USA. We enjoyed the game more because it is for a good cause. The event was great, and the party was perfect. Brooke USA is a wonderful charity that supports humans and animals alike and I’m looking forward to taking part in next year’s event.”
After the polo exhibition, the guests moved pool-side, where they enjoyed a night of dancing and drinks in their white attire. DJ Adam Lipson made sure everyone stayed on their feet and had a good time, while American Equestrians Got Talent’s 2017 winner, Cassie Ortiz, sang two songs prior to the start of the live auction, an encore from her earlier singing of the National Anthem, prior to the start of the polo exhibition.
The event exceeded expectations, and during the live auction Brooke USA was able to raise enough money to build two shade shelters during the “Bid for a Cause,” raising over $60,000 for the construction in Ethiopia that will allow many working equines to rest comfortably, have access to water and food to ensure they are refreshed and rested. Mark and Katherine Bellissimo took to the stage for the cause, speaking to the entire party and garnering support for the initiative. Tito’s Handmade Vodka stepped forward as the first $1,000 bidder, matching the first $1,000 raised for the shelter.
Katherine Bellissimo, Brooke USA Board Member as well as Co-Chair and underwriter of the event, was pleased with the response for the second year of the event, saying, “I am honored to be a member of a board of such important humanitarian as well as equine impact. Mark [Bellissimo] and I chose the shelters specifically as the ‘Bid for a Cause’ effort due to how successful the water troughs were last year, and what a lasting impact was made. We were delighted with the monies raised during the second year of this event, and we were happy to donate the staff and facilities to support this effort. We saw the party reach a new level with its added VIP section, and we are exceptionally proud of the support from the equestrian and Wellington communities.”
s the evening continued, surprise special guest Miami Heat DJ Irie engaged the crowd and kept the party going well into the night, while more than 200 VIP guests were treated to a five-course gourmet dining experience by Executive Chef Tam Ha on the all-new Wanderers Club Veranda.
Roldan concluded, “What was originally created as an end-of-year party has developed into the hottest and most fun event of the Wellington season with a great run of guests from all the different disciplines and sections of Wellington and Palm Beach society. I’m thrilled that with this event we are able to increase awareness for Brooke USA and what its mission is, as well as raise funds for crucial projects.”
Wellington is already abuzz with excitement for what the next year’s event will bring. Nic Roldan’s Sunset Polo & White Party is on its way to becoming an iconic staple of the Wellington winter season.