The U.S. Equestrian Team Foundation announced a new fundraising initiative, The Jonathan Wentz Memorial Challenge For High Performance Para-Dressage, on April 16, made possible through the generosity of Margaret H. Duprey and The Barnfield Foundation. The goal of the initiative is to raise $800,000 for high performance para-dressage. Duprey and the Barnfield Foundation have each pledged up to $200,000. They will each match, dollar for dollar, every gift commitment of $4,000 and above made by April 1, 2015.
“Our family is so excited and honored that Jonathan is being recognized in this way,” said Tina Wentz. “His dream was to not only be a world class equestrian, but to also help develop a world class U.S. Para-Dressage Team. This, as you know, not only takes dedication, sacrifice, training and skill of the athletes, but also the funds to compete nationally and internationally. My hope is that The Jonathan Wentz Memorial Challenge will raise awareness, and the funds needed to carry on his dream of developing a world class team.”
Jonathan represented the United States at the 2012 Paralympics in London and then died later that year.
The financial need for para-dressage athletes at the high performance international level can be quite significant. Unlike in some countries, the U.S. Equestrian Teams do not receive any government subsidies. The main source of funds for the athletes to participate in international competition comes through the USET Foundation from individuals and foundations whose interest and commitment to equestrian sport motivates them to make generous charitable contributions.
While traveling, especially overseas, wheelchair accessibility can be limited, and an individual benefits from having a personal care assistant to help the athlete not only move through low accessibility areas but they can also monitor the rider’s physical well being. Other supplementary support staff may include a person who is physically capable of helping a rider to mount their horse before competition, and a physical therapist to work the rider’s muscles. Many athletes who are paralyzed or have muscle spasticity can have muscle spasms, muscle soreness and physical issues that may need a licensed physical therapist to monitor and address.
For more information on the USET Foundation and The Jonathan Wentz Memorial Challenge For High Performance Para-Dressage, please call Bonnie B. Jenkins, executive director or Sara Ike, major gifts officer, at (908) 234-1251.