Polo player Nic Roldan has helped raise more than $120,000 for working equines around the world in a single night to benefit Brooke USA, of which he is an ambassador.
The inaugural Nic Roldan’s Sunset Polo & White Party, hosted by Mark and Katherine Bellissimo at The Wanderers Club in Wellington, Florida, was among the most anticipated events of the season. More than 500 guests gathered at the club on Thursday night in a perfect setting for sunset polo, dancing under the stars and supporting Brooke USA.
A thrilling polo game kicked off the inaugural event after a cocktail-hour performance by Ki-Juan Minors. Roldan, rated at 8 goals, led the Brooke USA Grey team to a 6-5 victory over Brooke USA Orange, captained by 6-goaler Kris Kampsen. Brandon Phillips (5), Timmy Dutta (0) and Ricky Mershad (0) rounded out the orange team. Justin Daniels (1), Grant Ganzi (1) and Henry Porter (1) completed the grey team.
Roldan is an official ambassador for Brooke USA, the American fundraising arm of the world’s largest international equine welfare charity, the Brooke. Brooke USA is dedicated to improving the lives of equines around the world, providing veterinary care, education, and resources to care for working horses, donkeys, and mules.
Before the game began a moment of silence was observed in memory of recently deceased polo player Bob Daniels, whose son played on the winning team. Roldan has long-time family ties to Bob Daniels. His father, Raul Roldan, played and worked for Daniels for 30 years. Nic Roldan also played many years with Daniels, reaching the 1999 US Open final together as Pony Express.
The Brooke USA match was anyone’s game from start to finish, with the score frequently tied or fluctuating back and forth with a tight spread. Toby Wayman of Chukker TV announced the game, giving a play by play for the spectators.
For Roldan, it was clearly a labor of love. “Our goal was to create as much awareness as possible in the community about Brooke USA’s efforts. It’s a good cause, and it’s close to our hearts because we love equines,” he said. Roldan extended his thanks to the event hosts, Katherine and Mark Bellissimo, who he said “went above and beyond” by providing the magnificent venue at The Wanderers Club and donating food and other amenities.
PoloGear USA donated the team jerseys, as well as custom saddlebags worn by miniature horses and donkeys that walked along the sidelines collecting cash donations for Brooke USA. Roldan, who came up with the idea to include the furry ambassadors, borrowed the mini-equines from his friends.
Marquez-Dulin and board member Jim Wolf presented the trophy to the winning team. The Best Playing Pony award, presented by Gil Johnston, went to Dallas, played by Phillips in the fourth chukker. Porter, the high-scorer in the game, was named Most Valuable Player.
Teeming with spectators, the sidelines were abuzz about the next Nic Roldan’s Sunset Polo & White Party, which is slated to return to Wellington in 2017. After the polo exhibition, guests moved pool-side where they enjoyed a night of dancing and drinks in their white attire. Rocco Mangel of Rocco’s Tacos emceed the event, and DJ Adam Lipson made sure everyone stayed on their feet and had a good time.
The inaugural event exceeded expectations, and during the live auction Brooke USA was able to raise enough money to build two permanent water troughs during the “Bid for a Cause.”
“We are proud to be a part of such a special event with Nic to benefit Brooke USA and pleased that the first year was such a success,” Katherine Bellissimo said.
“We look forward to making this an event that our community supports and looks forward to every year.”
Emily Dulin, Executive Director of Brooke USA, said the charity was “excited and overwhelmed” by the generosity and support shown during the event.
“We want to personally thank Mark and Katherine Bellissimo for hosting such an outstanding and successful event, and we also thank our Brooke USA ambassador, Nic Roldan, for conceptualizing this event and putting together an amazing team of hardworking volunteers.”