More than 500 guests, decked out in their finest derby attire, made the trek to Southfork Ranch to attend the highly anticipated Equest Triple Crown Gala, themed “Hats & Horses: A Texas Derby Day Soiree,” chaired by philanthropic powerhouses Maggie Kipp and Shay Geyer.
“This annual Triple Crown Gala gives our wonderful volunteers, staff and patrons the chance to sit back and enjoy what Equest is all about,” Kipp said. “It’s our way of saying ‘thank you’ and to celebrate their many accomplishments thus far.”
As befitted the theme, guests were greeted with mint juleps to jump-start the festivities. After making the rounds at the silent auction, they gathered for the highlight of the afternoon: riding demonstrations by Equest clients and their beloved horses.
Of course there was a hat competition, and judges — Louise Griffeth, Jeff Byron, Kersten Rettig, Blake Stephenson and Lezlie Noble — had a tough job. They narrowed it down to five finalists before crowing a winner. Finalists Shane Walker, Kunthear Mam-Douglas, Teffy Jacobs and Cara French applauded when champion Cara Pierce took the stage to bask in her derby day glory.
Another memorable moment followed when Equest co-founder Susan Schwartz revealed this year’s Susan Schwartz Founder’s Award recipients, Bert Headden and Cindy Thomas. After the pair was given proper recognition, a touching video served as a nice reminder of the remarkable stories that take place every day at Equest.
Equest’s mission is to enhance the quality of life for children and adults with diverse needs by using horses to bring hope and healing through equine-assisted activities and therapies. To accomplish this mission, the organization relies on generous individuals who are willing to share their expertise, time and money.