Mission complete! Boots & Salutes benefits Equest's Hooves for Heroes

This article originally appeared in North Texas e-News on August 12, 2017.

The evening sky rumbled with roaring engines of four WWII T-6 Texans as they flew over Equest at Texas Horse Park to officially start the USO-style tribute fundraiser, Boots & Salutes, benefiting the Equest’s Hooves for Heroes veteran program. The first-ever fundraising celebration, co-chaired by Carolyn Anderson and Robin Lott, was a spectacular evening of tributes and support for those who have served our country and the equine therapy and activities that help mental health and wellness for veterans and their families.

Equest Co-Chairs Robin Lott and Carolyn Anderson - photo credit: Rita Wortham Photography

Equest Co-Chairs Robin Lott and Carolyn Anderson - photo credit: Rita Wortham Photography

Six featured therapy horses, representing the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and First Responders, greeted over 300 attendees as they made their way to the patriotic covered arena decorated in red, white and blue where guests were entertained with a live Frank Sinatra-inspired musical performance by Dave Halston accompanied by the talented Dallas Swing Dance Society.

Casual gourmet food stations presented by Neiman Marcus Group, LUCK at Trinity Groves, Seasons 52, The String Bean, 3015 at Trinity Groves, The Rustic and Pop Star Popsicles along with beverage stations provided by Dr Pepper Snapple Group and Oak Highlands Brewery, lined the arena giving guests the chance to mix and mingle or sit at the beautifully decorated picnic tables.

Emcee Jim Blythe of KEXB 620 AM Alliance 4 the Brave led the evening’s activities, including: a presentation of colors by Vietnam Veterans of American 920 Honor Guard; the "Star-Spangled Banner" sung by Equest’s Veterans Coordinator Susannah Denney; a powerful, uplifting keynote speech by Dr. John Burruss, CEO of Metrocare and veteran advocate; and the Equest Hooves for Heroes Award Ceremony recognizing two veterans, Joe Lucido and Lucy Caba, and veteran supporter Scott Shepherd for continually putting service before self.

“This program gives freedom to veterans that have seen things while being deployed,” award recipient and veteran Joe Lucido explained. “What happens here [at Equest Hooves for Heroes] makes a difference in veterans’ lives.”

Anderson joined the stage giving a powerful call to action speech, challenging the attendees to turn the ‘why’ they came into ‘how’ they can help. She said, “We are blessed to be Americans who are protected and free because of our veterans. We see the blessings of these amazing horses standing right back there and how they provide hope and healing to clients meeting their challenges in life with grace and grit.”

The celebration continued as Dave Halston and his band took the stage and Dallas Swing Dance Society brought life to the dance floor, quickly followed by guests ready to show off their best swing dance moves.

Additional attendees included: Equest CEO Lili Kellogg, Equest Chairman of the Board Andy Steingasser, Equest Director of Clinical Services and Hooves for Heroes Jeff Hensley, WFAA’s “Designing Texas” host Jocelyn White, Lezlie and Bill Noble, Kristina and Phil Whitcomb, Beth and Chuck Thoele, Margaret and David Henry, Nancy and Ron Natinsky, Claire Johnston, Pauline and Councilman Kevin Felder, Terri Kennedy, Kellie and Ron Morrison, Judge Dominique Collins, among others.

Equest appreciates the support of its sponsors for making the event possible: La Quinta Inns & Suites, PwC, USAA, CrossFirst Bank, William Noble Rare Jewels, Ashford Hospitality Trust, SettlePou, Metrocare Services, Parker University, Cindy Thomas, Greater Dallas Restaurant Association, Alliance 4 the Brave, Tone’s Unknown, Digital 3 Printing, J & D Entertainment, Rita Wortham Photography, and Covington’s Nursery and Landscape as well as the food, beverage and entertainment sponsors.