Teams of business leaders, celebrities and riders compete in three-part race featuring show jumping, football toss and golf cart obstacle course

BY: Caroline Phillips

There wasn’t a single long face to be found — except for the equine variety — at the Spurs and Sparkles benefit that returned last night to Wesley Clover Parks for the first time since its tremendously successful launch more than four years ago.

The 300-plus attendees seemed genuinely excited to come together for one of Ottawa’s more unique fundraising events. It featured a Get Up and Gallop three-part competition that consisted of show jumping with riders on horseback, as well as local business leaders and celebrities participating in a golf cart obstacle course and football-toss challenge. 

Ten-time Olympian Ian Millar was on hand to take everyone through the race format and rules. His daughter Amy Millar, also a Canadian Olympian, was one of the riders in the race.

Terlin Construction successfully defended its champion title in the eight-team competition. Terlin owner Terry McLaughlin put the pedal to the metal as he speedily drove his golf cart around pylons and up and down hills. Holding on tight were his teammates: Terry Marcotte, retired CTV sports director and author of his best-selling book on hockey moms, and Irish showjumping rider Darragh Kerins.

Team Terlin was up against such fierce competitors as Marjolaine Hudon, regional president of presenting sponsor RBC Royal Bank. She was joined by RBC Olympic curler Lisa Weagle and rider Karen Sparks, who’s not only an accomplished showjumping rider but also the co-chair of the event.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be back here for our second ever Spurs and Sparkles,” Sparks, executive director of Wesley Clover Parks, said during her welcome remarks with co-chair extraordinaire Catherine McLaughlin at her side. “I can’t tell you how much joy it brings me to be able to host you and welcome you again, after all this time.”

Queensway Carleton Hospital Foundation president and CEO Shannon Gorman (middle), with Jeff Todd and Patricia Santos, from sponsor WCPD, at the Spurs and Sparkles fundraiser held at Wesley Clover Parks in support of QCH Foundation.

The co-chairs spoke inside the decorated large party tent. The beautiful space was put to excellent philanthropic use that night. It had already been set up for a major equestrian tournament being held this week at the four-season outdoor recreation hub located on Corkstown Road, in the city’s west end.

Sparks has strong ties to Queensway Carleton Hospital (QCH). She used to be on the board of the foundation and served as its chair for a couple of years. As well, her four children were born there. Choosing the QCH Foundation as the beneficiary for this year’s Spurs and Sparkles was “a natural choice,” said Sparks.

Organizers were expecting to raise a net total of nearly $60,000 for QCH Foundation. The west-end hospital serves more than 50 per cent of the population in Ottawa, attendees heard from the foundation’s president and CEO, Shannon Gorman.

“As our community grows, so do the demands on essential services,” Gorman said. “Our hospital relies on the generosity of our community to support key priorities, some of which include the purchase of vital equipment and medical devices, training and education for our staff, and construction of the new Barbara Crook and Dan Greenberg Mental Health Centre, as well as upgrades to our surgical suites.”

Gorman expressed her gratitude to QCH’s “dedicated and steadfast community of supporters” and their investment of “time, talent and resources to ensure our hospital has the latest equipment and services to help our growing and ageing population.”

Supporters from QCH Foundation in attendance included board chair Fred Seller, partner at Brazeau Seller Law, as well as QCH Foundation board members Susan Finlay and Dr. Ruchi Murthy, an infectious disease physician. Sparks’ father, high-tech entrepreneur Terry Matthews, founder and chair of Wesley Clover International, a private, global investment management firm and holding company, made a low-key appearance that night. 

The evening, enthusiastically emceed by radio personalities Sophie Moroz and Jeff Hopper from PURE Country 94, featured a delicious array of food, wine and beer stations. 1000 Island Brewing Company in Brockville created a Spurs and Sparkles label, just for the event. As well, there was live music and a DJ, both of which added to the fantastic vibes.

The other six teams competing in the Get Up and Gallop race were: Team OBJ (Terry Tyo, Ian Millar and rider Paul O’Shea), Accora Village (Roda HussenJorian Donovanand rider Susan Horn), Team Inflector Environmental (Chad MarinoffRadek Bonk, rider Chris Wiggins), Team Struck Apparel (owner Kevin MaxieJessie Winchesterand rider Ashley Maxie), Team Eye Candy (owner Erica HatfieldAbby Ernst and rider Amy Millar), Team Senators Community Foundation (Jacqueline BelsitoShean Donovan and rider Eryn Ballard).

Team Eye Candy placed third while Team Struck Apparel came second.

Spectators, who could clearly watch the competition that took place on the Grand Prix field, were invited to guess which team they thought was going to win.

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