‘Polo Under the Stars’ Raises Thousands for Shelter Animal Needs

By Bob Gordon, FOTAS Communications Director and Volunteer

It was a perfect night for combining fun, excitement, camaraderie and giving to a good cause. On the evening of Friday, October 9, Dennis Freeland and his wife, Janice, hosted “Polo Under the Stars” at their picturesque FireStar Arena, with all of the event’s proceeds going to FOTAS and the orphaned animals at the County shelter.

About 550 people attended Polo Under the Stars, which was as much a party as it was a sporting event. Besides the main attraction of the arena polo match, the event featured music, great food and an open bar. FOTAS set up an information tent along with the main corporate sponsors: Wagener Polo Club, Aiken Housing Center Superstore and The Aiken Horse newspaper. Former 5-goaler Billy Raab, director of Wagener Polo Club, served as the match announcer and provided his unique polo perspective.

Admission was a $20 donation per car, but folks were feeling extra generous this special evening. “We had a lot of people pay more than the $20,” Dennis said. “At the gate, a number of attendees pulled out a $50 bill and said, ‘Keep the change.”

That generosity resulted in a total of $5,000 being donated to FOTAS.

“We are so pleased and honored to be chosen as the beneficiary of this charitable event,” said FOTAS President Jennifer Miller. “FOTAS will put this money toward our spay/neuter programs as well as our exercise yard improvement project at the shelter.” The ground in the fenced dog exercise yards has eroded due to flooding and needs to be re-seeded and properly graded with new drain systems to prevent standing water.

It is fitting that this event was held in Wagener, the community where FOTAS first piloted its spay/neuter assistance programs. Since focusing on this hot spot, FOTAS has funded hundreds of spay/neuter surgeries for community cats and pets owned by citizens in need of financial assistance. County Councilwoman Kathy Rawls, a Wagener resident and early proponent for FOTAS and its programs, was in attendance at Polo Under the Stars, once again showing her strong support for the shelter.

This was the first of many night polo events the Freelands plan to host in coming months.

“Our goal is to promote and help local charities and also provide more exposure for polo in the area, since it is a sport near and dear to our hearts,” Dennis said.

FOTAS thanks everyone who came out and supported us for this event, and hopes this seamless blend of philanthropy and festivity becomes an annual occasion.

To learn more about FOTAS and its activities, including our spay/neuter programs, go to www.fotasaiken.org.

Their lives are in our hands…

Photo Caption:

A check for $5,000 is presented to FOTAS. Pictured from left: Billy Raab, Shana Ryberg Pearsons, Janice Freeland, FOTAS President Jennifer Miller, FOTAS Vice President Mary Lou Welch and Ellie Joos.