On Friday, July 25, the United States Equestrian Team Foundation hosted a special reception to honor members of its Gold Medal Club and Karen E. Stives, at Sheila Johnson’s Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, VA.
The occasion paid tribute to Stives, who donated one million dollars to create the Karen E. Stives Endowment Fund for High Performance Eventing. Her gift will fund an annual grant to for an Eventing High Performance activity that will have a direct impact on the United States ability to win medals at CCIO competitions.
About 150 guests attended the event that included, owners, riders, trainers, parents and Gold Medal Club supporters of the USET Foundation.
USET Foundation flags and red roses decorated the tables. The poster of Stives and Flying Colors suspended in time and space over a huge ditch with brush jump on the landing side expresses perfectly the importance of her involvement in and financial support of High Performance Eventing; it is huge.
“Karen’s generosity and interest in giving back to the sport that has meant so much to her is simply extraordinary, said Bonnie B. Jenkins, USET Foundation Executive Director. Karen and our other Gold Medal Club members make it possible for the USET Foundation to help fund teams for the WEG, the Olympics, Pan American Games and all the High Performance programs and international competitions that take place throughout the year. ”
Philip Richter, USET Foundation Treasurer served as master of ceremonies and explained the significance of the Gold Medal Club, established in 1980. Membership in the Gold Medal Club honors those who donate $1,000 or more annually. As Richter pointed out, this year, the USET Foundation’s support of the United States Equestrian Federation’s High Performance Programs has increased to 2.9 million in grants to the Federation and an additional $300,000 in direct athlete grants for a total of $3.2 million. The USA will field teams and individuals to compete in the eight FEI disciplines in Normandy, France, August 23 to September 7 for the 2014 World Equestrian Games and much of that support comes from our Gold Medal Club members.
The Gold Medal Club members celebrating anniversaries in attendance were invited to come up and receive a gift in appreciation of their ongoing support: 10 years – Carolyn and Paul Rizza; 15 years – Gregory W. Gingery; 20 years – Mrs. & Mrs. Stagg Newman, Karen E. Stives; 25 years – Jacqueline B. Mars and Mr. and Mrs. George R. Tauber.
Others recognized but who were unable to attend were:
10 year: Patricia Adikes-Hill, Carol and Rebecca Cohen, Joan and Bill Cvengros, Mr. & Mrs. Tim Dutta, Karin W. Flint Fund, Mr. & Mrs. Lawrence Hester, Carole Hoffman, Mr. & Mrs. Ernest Kalman, Peter R. & Cynthia K. Kellogg Foundation, Joyce V. Phipps, Mr. & Mrs. Raymond Roberts, Alexandra Storm, Mr. & Mrs. Chester C. Weber and Penny Youngblood.
15 year: Jerome Broussard, Mr. & Mrs. Mario Deslauriers, Margaret H. Durprey, Mr. & Mrs. Peter Howard, Mr. & Mrs. Jeremy Jacobs, Mr. & Mrs. Ernst Mahler, Jr., Col. John W. Russell, Mr. & Mrs. Howard B. Simpson, Anne C. Snyder and Mr. & Mrs. Kermit Sutton.
20 year: Mr. & Mrs. James Bramsen, Mr. & Mrs. Murray Goodman, Mr. & Mrs. Robert Johnstone, Mrs. Charles H. Jones, Jr. and Mr. & Mrs. Justin Sadrian.
25 year: Mr. & Mrs. Richard H. Brown, Mr. & Mrs. Don T. Hibner, Cindy W. Nord, Judy Richter, Linda Irvine Smith and Mr. & Mrs. Pascal Tone.
30 year: Mr. & Mrs. Ernest S. Bessette, Jr., Major General Jonathan R. Burton, Dr. & Mrs. Peter N. Heydon, Mrs. Dewitt Horner and Mr. & Mrs. Alexander C. Ridland;
35 year: Frances B. Steinwedell.
Then, the focus turned to the Karen E. Stives Endowment Fund for High Performance Eventing. “This is an extraordinary gift to the USET Foundation and it will have a direct impact on the United States’ ability to win medals,” Richter said, before turning the podium over to Jim Wolf, U.S. Chef d’ Mission and long-time close friend who had the privilege of introducing Stives.
No one rider has given as much back to the sport as Karen Stives and as a rider and donor I think she’s really setting a tone,” said Wolf, “Selector, donor, rider, volunteer, judge – she has done all those things for the love of the sport, for the people and the horses.”
Stives partnered with the challenging but talented Ben Arthur, owned by her mother, to become the first woman to earn an Individual Silver Olympic medal in Eventing in 1984 (Los Angeles) where she anchored the U.S. to win the Team Gold medal. During her two decades in Eventing, Stives was named USCTA (now USEA) Rider of the Year in 1981, ’87 and ’88. She has stayed involved ever since.
“My wish is to assist our riders to compete at the very highest level and to encourage them to give back to the sport in any way that they are able,” Stives said. Stives spoke softly with great passion about learning to connect with an independent personality that does not speak our language, how it requires patience, listening, understanding and compromise. She gave special thanks to her horse Ben Arthur who taught her the most.
“It was basics, basics and more basics that ultimately proved the key… Let’s bring back gold from Normandy!,” concluded Stives.