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Sissy Demaria


First Jump for Children Pony Derby set for March 7

Nadia Sorocka nsorocka@tribune.com

February 26, 2014

The ponies will get their chance to shine as the FTI Winter Equestrian Festival will have its first Jump for Children Pony Derby on March 7 at The Stadium, corner of Pierson Road and South Shore Boulevard.

Children ages 7 to 17 will get the chance to compete in three $5,000 Pony Derby Classics with small, medium and large divisions and also help raise funds and awareness for local nonprofits Give A Buck for Special Equestrians, Just World International and Naples-based Friends of Foster Children of Southwest Florida.

"As parent of a young rider [daughter Hama Bieling], I have always felt it was important to teach our children the need to include philanthropy in their lives," said organizer Tara Bieling, who is the event and outreach developer with Friends of Foster Children. "With an event like this that  is exactly what we are doing."

Why did the Naples-based nonprofit that helps families and children in the foster care system want to put on an event here in Wellington?

"Naples and Wellington are very similar," she said. "But, it is really our riding roots that have been bringing us to Wellington all these years. I thought this event would be a great way to showcase the pony world and raise funds for Friends of Foster Children."

The Jump for the Children Pony Derby kicks off at 10 a.m. March 7 and will be followed by a tented gala dinner in which young riders and their families are invited to step up and dress up, and to join parents to bid on an array of child friendly and silent auction items ranging from a

trip with a veterinarian for a day to a day at Gulfstream Park to witness the behind the scenes of thoroughbred racing.

The event also will include a horseless horse show sponsored by Just World International and an equine apparel and pre-owned tack raffle by the Young Ambassadors of Give a Buck for Special Equestrians, a statewide nonprofit that raises funds and awareness for therapeutic riding programs for the disabled and benefits the Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center here in Wellington.

"The funds raised from the Pony Derby will help us give these children a chance to become successful and strong adults," Bieling said.

She said that friends have helped organize the inaugural Jump for the Children Pony Derby, including David Burton who provided use of the grounds.

The events throughout the day are free and open to everyone. Tickets for the gala are $175 and may be purchased by calling 239-200-2230.

Visit FriendsOfFosterChildren.net.