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Five Top Teams Vie for Victory at 2019 Challenge of the Americas

Five teams of top riders and their dedicated coaches, choreographers and eyes-on-the-ground have thrown their helmets in the ring in an effort to claim the crown at the 2019 Challenge of the Americas (COTA). Although there’s no physical prize, these fierce competitors practice many hours to not only Challenge Breast Cancer, but to win! You’ll see some perennial favorites on this list who joyfully join us year after year, and some new teams ready to raise funds for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation through Play for P.I.N.K.


Meet the 2019 COTA Team Riders and Team Sponsors

Team Winged Foot’s sponsor, Kathleen Kennedy Dunagan, said she is pleased to once again sponsor a team for the 2019 COTA.  “So many of us have been touched by the ravages of breast cancer, whether it be in our personal lives, or that of our family or friend,” she said. “For us, being able to contribute to the cause of finding a cure for this disease in a way that showcases the grace and beauty of dressage, is a great honor. The Challenge of the Americas, through the tireless dedication and efforts of the riders, horses and organizers, is an event like no other. This evening is an art form unto itself. . .and to now be broadcasting globally is exciting indeed!” 

TEAM WINGED FOOT
Riders: Yvonne Losos de Muñiz, Shannon Dueck, Bridget Hay, Ilse Schwarz, Marco Bernal, Raul Corchuelo
Choreographer: Ruth Hogan-Poulsen
Coaches: Ruth Hogan-Poulsen and Susanne Hamilton

Gardy Bloemers became interested in supporting the Challenge the first time she visited Wellington.  “On my first ever weekend trip to Wellington about six years ago, I came on the weekend of the Challenge and that was the year Debbie McDonald and Mason Phelps rode a freestyle together,” she said. “It was a fun event and, of course, since then it has grown and grown. In my wealth management practice, I always try to support the things I love and care about, which gives me the opportunity to connect with like-minded people. Cancer has touched me and touches all of us; it’s great to be able to contribute to breast cancer research in this manner.”

TEAM GARDY BLOEMERS, MERRILL LYNCH WEALTH MANAGEMENT
Riders: Jim Koford, Allison Kavey, Noel Williams, Betsy Van Dyke, Lauren Chumley, Becky Cowden
Choreographer and Coach: Tigger Montague

Purina returns once again to sponsor a team and to treat the competitors to pre-event refreshments before the ride under the lights at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival show grounds. “This is such a wonderful event,” said Shiela Conde, South Florida Equine Sales Specialist for Purina Animal Nutrition LLC. “We are proud to support Play for P.I.N.K. and The Challenge of Americas. It is an honor to have a team in the Challenge and it’s great to work with all of the riders, teams, coaches, horses and staff. The commitment and energy of all involved is incredible!”

TEAM PURINA
Riders: Pamela Goodrich, Bent Jensen, Olivia LaGoy-Weltz, George Wiliams, Betsy Steiner, Kasey Perry-Glass
Choreographer: Terry Ciotti Gallo
Team Coaches: Terry Ciotti Gallo and Bill Warren

Hylofit, a company dedicated to building a stronger partnership between horse and human with their innovative heart rate monitor, is a new sponsor for the 2019 Challenge of the Americas. “It was natural for Hylofit to step up and sponsor a team,” said Eliane Cordia van Reesema, one of the founders of Hylofit and their eyes-on-the-ground coach. “Hylofit is an all-female company dedicated to equine and human health, and we are happy to be a part of the experience this year. The Challenge of the Americas is such a great cause and a fun way to raise money for breast cancer research.”

TEAM HYLOFIT
Riders: Nicholas Hansen, Heidi Degele, Caleb Scroggins, Meagan Davis, Molly Paris, Melissa MacLauren Velix
Choreographer: Melissa MacLauren Velix
Coaches: Eliane Cordia van Reesema and Camelia Montalvo

Mary Ross, Challenge of the America’s founder and organizer, is also the creator of MatchNRide.com, a horse sales website matching riders with their perfect new equine partner. “I started the Challenge in 2002 to honor my mother, who died from breast cancer,” she said. “I chose to sponsor a team competing from Holland to showcase our growth over the years. We began with three riders at an afternoon luncheon and now, in 2019, we are truly an international event featuring 40 Grand Prix riders. We are looking forward to making this year’s Challenge of the Americas our most successful event to date in our quest to help researchers find a cure for breast cancer.”

TEAM MATCHNRIDE
Riders: Otte Arts, Diane Heijmans, Miranda Hoezen, Sylvia van de Broek, Michelle Westerdijk, Renee Zomers
Music: Corinne Latour
Coach: Marieke Verdonk

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