By Mandy Stanage Shoptaw | Photography by Lori Sparkman Photography | Makeup by Fontaine Goss Leonard with B. Barnett | Wardrobe from B. Barnett | Shot on location at the Capital Hotel
After a three year hiatus, the Little Rock Polo Classic is ready to hit the field for Hope Rising Children’s Home of Haiti at a benefit chaired by Jen Spore and hosted by members of the Windrush Polo Club.
“Hope Rising was founded following the catastrophic 2010 earthquake in Leogane, Haiti. They have homes for orphaned and abandoned children, a school, sports pavilion, feeding program, and most recently opened a medical clinic,” explains Jen, a clinical dietitian with CHI St. Vincent Infirmary. “I have an obvious interest in health, wellness, and nutrition. During my time working with Hope Rising on a mission trip to Haiti, my primary role was assessing children and adults for malnutrition.”
The organization is supported primarily by Arkansans from Lavaca, White Hall, and Jen’s hometown of Mountain Home. These Arkansans live in Leogane and work with Hope Rising as teachers, coaches, program administrators, and medical professionals providing critical services for Haitian children.
At the Little Rock Polo Classic, look for the action both on and off the field. “This year guests will feast on a Haitian inspired buffet, sip on delicious libations, enjoy lawn games and a silent auction – including a Hope Rising polo jersey autographed by some of the world’s top polo players,” Jen adds that the event is designed to kick off the summer season. “You can also enter for a chance to win a gorgeous Effy diamond and Tanzanite necklace and participate in a best dressed competition sponsored by Baumans and B. Barnett.” Guests are encouraged to dress for the season in chic but weather appropriate attire – specifically linen pants, sundresses, pastels or splashes of bright colors, “Really, anything summertime soirée is appropriate,” Jen elaborates.
There’s even a divot stomp with a champagne toast, courtesy of O’Looney’s Wine & Liquor, between the action on the field. Festivities will be at Windrush Polo Club, which was established in 2012 by local players who wanted to bring the sport to Central Arkansas. “I was first introduced to polo by Bo Brister, who has been a member of Windrush since its inception,” Jen says. “Through his playing at Windrush, I’ve been able to see the discipline, skill, and strategy that goes into winning a match. Polo is definitely for those who enjoy a challenging, full contact and adrenaline-inducing sport.”
Not unlike the discipline and dedication it takes to succeed at polo, the Hope Rising volunteers remain focused on providing resources to Haitian families. Jen says of the volunteers in Haiti, “What I love is their continued commitment to working with and supporting local leaders. They work from the sidelines to empower communities to improve health and overcome adversity resulting in measurable and meaningful change. I was raised with the belief that it is our greatest responsibility in life is to love and serve others and that could not be more evident in Hope Rising’s mission. Even though the mission is in another country, it is still a cause close to home.”