The Way to Santa Fe, a Southwest Soiree

Raises $ 45,000 in Support of Special Needs Riders at Biscayne Bay Yacht Club

LEAD Blake Brown, Lauren Harrison Brown, Sissy DeMaria Koehne, Dr. Guenther Koehne, Dana Nateman, Kevin Nateman

It was an urban cowboy showdown! On Wednesday, November 16, more than 150 city slickers, saddled up for a rousing Southwestern soiree to support Give Back for Special Equestrians and Whispering Manes Therapeutic Riding Center raising over $45,000 for special needs riders.

Miami’s equestrian and philanthropic community donned denim, diamonds, Stetsons and boots at “The Way to Santa Fe” held at Biscayne Bay Yacht Club. Guests ponied up alongside hosts Nancy and Jon Batchelor, Christy and Earl Powell, Nancy Hector, Sissy DeMaria-Koehne and Dr. Guenther Koehne, Lauren Harrison Brown and Blake Brown, and committee members Andria Dickinson, Emily Zubizeretta, Dr. Heather and Dwight Kuhl, Munisha Underhill, Sandra and Randy Fiorenza, Maile Aguila, Helen Picard, and Dana and Kevin Nateman in support of life changing horsepower that heals.

Sissy DeMaria Koehne, Nancy Batchelor, Carolyn Batchelor

Guests horse-played throughout the evening with a costume contest, a honky-tonk DJ, line dancing and miniature horses, while dining on a Southwestern buffet, featuring Texas barbecue sliders, chips and salsa, and churros in a warm and decadent chocolate sauce dished up alongside margaritas, cervezas, and sangria.

Philanthropist Marile Lopez took the honors alongside Dr. Guenther Koehne for best costume, while a bevy of beauties did the Texas Two Step under the Coconut Grove sky.

Presenting Sponsor, Braman Miami
The Way to Santa Fe, a Southwest Denim and Diamond Soiree
Southside Stampede and Guests

“We had a fabulous evening with friends new and old who channeled their inner cowboy or cowgirl dressing the part in denim, diamonds, and cowboy hats to help support our mission to provide therapeutic horseback riding scholarships for disabled children and adults at the beautiful Whispering Manes Therapeutic Riding Center in Miami’s Horse Country,” said Sissy DeMaria-Koehne, Co-Founder and CEO of Give Back for Special Equestrians.

“Equine therapy changes lives for those with disabilities and events like ‘The Way to Santa Fe’ help raise significant funds towards providing scholarships for children and adults overcoming some of life’s most challenging hurdles. We are grateful to our generous donors and corporate sponsors including our presenting sponsor Braman Miami, as well as Sunset Feed and Supply, Compass, the Nancy Batchelor Team, the Powell Family Foundation, Coral Gables Trust, the Nateman Family Foundation, Ani and Tony Fernandez, the Bialy Family, Legacy Residential, Kaufman and Rossin, Cultivate PR, TruckMax and our tireless board and committee members who helped us raise much needed revenue,” said Nancy Hector, Founder of Whispering Manes.

Jill Fitzgerald and Michelle Haast
Ashley Cusack, Nancy Batchelor, Greg Herskowitz, Dr. Regina Fernandez-Llanio, George Crosby

Founded in 2013 by DeMaria-Koehne, Dr. Heather Kuhl, and Isabel Ernst, Give Back for Special Equestrians is an all-volunteer non-profit that provides therapeutic horseback riding scholarships for disabled children and veterans in Florida who are facing physical, mental and emotional challenges and has raised over $150k in support of special needs riders since its inception. The organization believes in horsepower that heals, and raises funds for horseback riding scholarships for children facing some of life’s most difficult challenges like autism, Downs Syndrome, spina bifida, paralysis, and post-traumatic stress disorder. They do this through corporate sponsors, generous donors, and fundraising events.

Gina King

Whispering Manes Therapeutic Riding Center is a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization offering therapeutic horseback riding and therapeutic horsemanship classes for people with physical, cognitive, and emotional disabilities. Through safe and supervised individually tailored programs with specialized horses, participants with a wide range of disabilities are given the opportunity to interact with horses through un-mounted and mounted activities while being supervised by PATH certified professionals to promote physical, cognitive, or emotional well-being. Centrally located in Miami-Dade County they serve a community that would otherwise not have access to equine assisted activities. Participants interact with horses through un-mounted and mounted activities while being supervised by PATH certified professionals. The program aims to promote improvements in core and overall muscle strength, balance, gross and fine motor skills and communication skills. Additionally, participants frequently achieve a sense of self-accomplishment and self-esteem that is promoted by the powerful bond between humans and horses.

Marilyn Dans, Andriana Verdeja, Emily Zubizarreta, Marile Lopez
Stephanie Rosado and Sacha Medici
Stephanie Rosado and Sacha Medici
Ansley Campbell, Cozy Salazar, Stephanie Rosado

About Give Back for Special Equestrians

Give Back for Special Equestrians was founded in 2013 by Sissy DeMaria-Koehne, Dr. Heather Kuhl, and Isabel Ernst and is registered as a 501(c)3 all-volunteer non-profit in Florida that provides therapeutic horseback riding scholarships for disabled children and veterans.

The organization believes in horsepower that heals and raises funds for therapeutic horseback riding and equine assisted scholarships for children and veterans facing some of life’s most difficult challenges such as Autism, Down Syndrome, Spina Bifida, paralysis, and post-traumatic stress disorder so that they can experience this life changing therapy. Give Back for Special Equestrians raises funds through corporate sponsorships, generous donors and fundraising events such as the Winter Equestrian Festival, Hampton Classic, and Polo matches and has proudly raised over $300k in support of special needs riders.

Give Back for Special Equestrians Young Ambassadors, children, and teens ages 7-17 are the backbone of the organization providing ongoing support through hands-on volunteering, fundraising, “friend” raising, and drawing awareness to the charity’s mission.

In 2021 Give Back for Special Equestrians formed a strategic alliance with Whispering Manes Therapeutic riding Facility in Miami.

Give Back for Special Equestrians was founded in July 2013 and is a registered non-profit in Florida. 501(c)3. Give Back for Special Equestrians raises funds through corporate sponsorships, and fundraising events such as the Winter Equestrian Festival, Hampton Classic. Give Back for Special Equestrians Young Ambassadors, children, and teens ages 7-17 are the backbone of the organization providing ongoing support through hands-on volunteering, fundraising, “friend” raising, and drawing awareness to the charity’s mission. For more information on Give Back for Special Equestrians visit www.givebackeq.org.

About Whispering Manes Therapeutic Riding Center

Whispering Manes Therapeutic Riding Center is a 501(c)(3), non-profit organization offering therapeutic horseback riding and therapeutic horsemanship classes for people with physical, cognitive, and emotional disabilities. Through safe and supervised individually tailored programs with specialized horses, participants with a wide range of disabilities are given the opportunity to participate in equine assisted activities that promote physical, cognitive, or emotional well-being. Centrally located in Miami-Dade County they serve a community that would otherwise not have access to equine assisted activities. Participants interact with horses through un-mounted and mounted activities while being supervised by PATH certified professionals. The program aims to promote improvements in core and overall muscle strength, balance, gross and fine motor skills and communication skills. Additionally, participants frequently achieve a sense of self-accomplishment and self-esteem that is promoted by the powerful bond between humans and horses.

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