While many fear turning 40, the Equest folks are celebrating their 40th year of providing therapy for children, military vets and countless others with good common horse sense. Equest Gala Co-Chairs Lisa and Kendall Laughlin and Katherine and Austin Wyker decided to celebrate the Gala patrons with a party at Marie Gabrielle Gardens underwritten by Diane and Hal Brierley last Thursday night.
Equest Women’s Auxiliary Founder Louise Griffeth was on hand in the garden setting with 2019 Gala Co-Chairs/son and daughter-in-law Teal and Annie Griffeth. Louise laughed how in past years she and husband Guy Griffeth had spent three weeks at a time at their Galveston home while Guy underwent cancer treatments, while spending the majority of their time at their Dallas home base. However, during the past year of the pandemic, their schedule had been swapped.
For Equest PR Susan Friedman, the patron party was part of her swan song tour. Due to her husband’s getting a too-good-to-turn-down promotion at Amazon’s new East Coast headquarters, they’re moving to the East Coast this summer. She’s already checking out opportunities in the Washington, D.C. area.
Speaking of the Women’s Auxiliary, 2021 Auxiliary President Katie Layton and 2021 Equest Women’s Auxiliary Style Show and Luncheon Chair/Katie’s mom Beth Layton were galloping ahead with plans for the Tuesday, October 5th fundraiser at Brook Hollow.
While most people were complaining about gaining weight over the pandemic year, Beth had gone in the other direction, losing 15 pounds.
Kim and Greg Hext had just flown in from Vail to attend the party. Kim revealed that the final accounting of the recent Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary’s recouping the cancellation of its annual fashion show was still being tallied and would be revealed soon. Even without the fashion event, she managed to fundraise some impressive numbers and provided 2022 Fashion Show Chair Nikki Webb with a store full of clothes.
But in the meantime, Kim is heavily involved in the Majestic 100 Gala that she’ll be chairing.
Just before 7 p.m., guests like Elsa Norwood, Sara Lee and Stan Gardner, Di Johnston, and Gala Underwriting Chair Cynthia and Brice Beaird gathered at the southeastern end of the garden, where the Equest mini-ambassadors had been photo-opping with guests. Despite the sound of passing emergency vehicles and a temperamental sound system, the program got underway with Equest CEO Lili Kellogg introducing clients like Ryan Wolf and his mother Margaret Wolf. With his mother Amy Pritchard looking on, Brendan Pritchard looked quite natty in his dressage attire, proudly wearing his blue ribbons from the recent Equest Spring Horse Show.
Then Stacey Johnson gave a moving testimonial on how she had started her journey as a 12-year-old and was now 42. With her mother, Martha Johnson, looking on, she admitted that before Equest she didn’t talk very much and didn’t have any friends. Now she admitted, “I talk a lot and have lots of friends.” To cap off the moment, Brendan walked over and gave her a big hug.
Lili told the group that as part of the Equest program’s successes in helping 2,000 children and adults annually, the Dallas police department has requested that a program be created to help officers who have witnessed traumatic situations involving children. As soon as funds are available, Lili is going to make it happen.
The evening’s program concluded with Lisa and Katherine providing an update on gala plans at Texas Horse Park on Saturday, June 5, with a silent auction of goodies and a live auction of trips galore. They also reminded the guests that raffle tickets were available for everything from jewelry and trips to Old Gringo boots and a Tesla experience. Katherine couldn’t help but add that they were halfway to their $500,000 goal.
Afterward, Lili recalled the past year and how they had adjusted their program in order to continue providing therapeutic services for their clients. After all, the programs were outdoors and everyone was wearing masks and gloves with everything being sanitized.
Thanks to their Benchmark Bank advisors, they were able to provide their application for PPP funding six days after it was announced.
On a side note, Lili reported that due to seeing Equest through the challenging year and her moving into a new home with her husband, she was going to start working with her own horses to prepare them to get back to their therapy duties at Equest.
BTW, tickets and sponsorship opportunities are still available for the 40 Years of Horse Power Gala on Saturday, June 5, with proceeds honoring veterans and benefiting Hooves for Heroes. This get-together is a great opportunity to see Equest’s home base and its four-legged residents.