Text by Heather Buchanan
Friday the 13th turned lucky for the thousands of children whose lives are changed by JustWorld International. Their annual gala on Friday showed not only the hard work of the organization but the huge hearts of the equestrian community who came out to support the fun-filled evening. The 14th Annual JustWorld International Gala presented by the Palm Beach Masters and Caryl Philips and Frank Zeiss was generously hosted at the Belle Herbe Farm in Wellington, Florida.
Currently, JustWorld International has partners in three countries: Cambodia, Guatemala, and Honduras. In total, JustWorld is supporting more than 6,500 children this year alone, focusing on education, nutrition, health and hygiene, and leadership and cultural development programs. Some of the world’s top riders as well as a host of amateurs volunteer as ambassadors and travel the world to see the good work in action.
The evening was a celebration with students from JustWorld partner project Los Patojos in Guatemala who performed as well as The Voice Contestant Johnny Rez. And if there is any doubt about the competitive spirit of equestrians, one had only to watch the live auction handled masterfully by emcee Steven Wilde and Auctioneer Justin Paul.
The equestrian world is one of privilege and founder Jessica Newman had an epiphany when she started JustWorld International 14 years ago to harness the energy, enthusiasm, and generosity of the community. By involving the riders, it also became about the experience and not just writing a check. Each ambassador who has come back from the field to see the work of JustWorld and the children it helps has had their outlook profoundly affected.
Newman was proud to present the new Andres Rodriguez Professional Ambassador Award to Olympic Champion Laura Kraut.
“I see JustWorld expanding and having a presence all over the world with the support of the equestrian community working for the JustWorld partner projects,” Newman commented. “It is beyond exciting to see how much it has grown. My most emotional moments have been when I see the people involved in JustWorld taking such ownership of it. No matter what country I go to for an event, there is always someone who is involved with JustWorld. It is exciting to see how many people are invested in the organization and want to see it continue to develop as much as I do.”