Friday, Jul. 20 served as a patriotic evening that bestowed acknowledgment, honor, and gratitude to America’s veterans and first responders at Equest’s second annual Boots & Salutes, a USO-themed fundraiser for Equest’s fastest growing program, Hooves for Heroes. The sold-out event, led by Chair Carolyn Anderson, raised over $93,000 to help warriors and their family members achieve optimum wellness while transitioning to civilian life through equine-facilitated therapies and activities. Proceeds from Boots & Salutes will be matched by a generous HHSC grant.
Equest at Texas Horse Park, as well as the Equest Mini Ambassadors (two miniature horses under 36 inches tall), were decorated in their finest red, white, and blue to salute America’s heroes. The evening began at sunset with signature cocktails, a warm welcome from an eight-foot tall Uncle Sam, a WWII T-6 Texan fly-over, and Presentation of Colors by VVA 920 Honor Guard. Emcee William “Wags” Wagasy, retired Navy SEAL special operations chief, took the stage and paid tribute to six WWII veterans and additional military and first responders in attendance, as well as Veteran and Equest Client Mike Maas who received the first ever Mike Maas Circle of Excellence Award.
Notable restaurants, including Asian Mint, Carlton Provisions, Doc B’s Fresh Kitchen, Haute Sweets Patisserie, Lucky’s Café, Farm to Market Catering, Seasons 52, and Taco y Vino, served casual gourmet cuisine, and guests stayed cool with ice-cold beverages provided by Dr Pepper Snapple Group and Real Ale Brewing Co. and industrial fans donated by Global Cooling Systems. Guests perused the magnificent auction items and admired the custom-built playhouse that sold as a live auction package complete with a party featuring Equest’s Mini Ambassadors. Although guests stayed cooled, the dance floor was on fire thanks to the lively music performed by Jordan Kahn Orchestra.
Over 350 military members, horse lovers, Equest clients and supporters attended Boots & Salutes. Notables included: Equest CEO Lili Kellogg and Equest Chairman of the Board Andy Steingasser; Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson; Cindy Thomas and Bert Headden; Lezlie and Bill Noble; Connie and Denny Carreker; Pam Dealey Petty and Michael Petty; Russell Dealey; Kathleen and Ban Bywaters; Kristin and Mike Reed; and Linda and Ray Tunnell.
Boots & Salutes was made possible by Bert Headden and Cindy Thomas, CrossFirst Bank, Hopkins Commercial Real Estate, Northrop Grumman, Mizzen + Main, Luther King Capital Management, Pendery’s, SettlePou, and USAA. Additional in-kind services and product donations provided by Rita Wortham Photography, Jordan Kahn Orchestra, Covington’s Nursery Landscape Co. and the participating restaurants and beverage companies.
*Photo courtesy of Equest, credit to Rita Wortham.
Founded in 1981, Equest provides equine assisted learning, therapies and counseling to children and adults with physical, cognitive, sensory, coping and learning disabilities and veterans with adjustment challenges. The services provided include physical and occupational therapy, equine assisted counseling and learning, therapeutic carriage driving, therapeutic horsemanship and competition. With the help of 36 therapy horses, 10 instructors, four therapists, two counselors, and 400 volunteers, lives are changed on a daily basis for more than 2,000 clients served annually. Equest was the first PATH International Premier Accredited Center in Texas and remains one of the largest in the country. Equest offers an engaging volunteer program that provides 40,000 hours of direct program service opportunities each year. www.equest.org
About Equest Hooves for Heroes
Through equine-assisted activities and therapies, Equest’s Hooves for Heroes program helps veterans and their families transition from military to civilian life and excel as community members, neighbors, and civic leaders. The individually tailored programs include mental health counseling, physical and occupational therapy, therapeutic horsemanship, carriage driving and more. Since its founding in 2012, Hooves for Heroes has helped more than 600 veterans and military family members at no cost, thanks to generous grant funding, charitable donations, and underwriting. www.equest.org/veterans