Brooke USA Celebrates Fundraising Event at Tryon International Equestrian Center

Tryon, NC. – Nov. 3, 2017 – In addition to the well-attended $380,000 Rolex Grand Prix CSI 5*, the Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) hosted a fundraising event for Brooke USA on Saturday, Oct. 21. The event, held from 5-7 p.m. before the first round of competition, featured celebrity bartenders and a silent auction to benefit working horses, donkeys and mules in the poorest countries around the world.

The goal of the evening was to raise awareness and excitement about Brooke USA with fellow equestrians and community members. The venue was decorated in orange to represent Brooke USA and raise awareness of their global work helping working equines in poverty-stricken areas. Recently, Brooke USA raised over $98,000 to provide much-needed relief to the animals, who are a lifeline to their owners, in Bulle and Gedeb, Ethiopia.

TIEC’s co-founder Mark Bellissimo and his wife Katherine, who is a board member of Brooke USA, were on-hand to greet guests and answer questions about Brooke USA’s campaign. The Bellissimo family also brought along Starsky and Hutch, their miniature horses they rescued and rehabilitated. Donning special Brooke USA blankets, Starsky and Hutch were available throughout the evening to generate donations and take photos with guests.

Brooke USA was thrilled to have an entertaining group of celebrity bartenders help raise awareness, Paige Bellissimo led the group including Jessica Springsteen, Alexandra Thornton, Maria Costa, Charlie Jayne, Nicole Bellissimo and Eric Sassmannshausen. Hundreds of people stopped by the Brooke USA bar to have an orange sangria, a medley of other beverages and enjoy hors d’oeuvres, while at the same time chatting with Brooke USA staff, supporters and celebrity bartenders to learn more about the organization.

“The support we received was amazing from the equestrians and the surrounding community,” principal in the Tryon Equestrian Partners and Brooke USA Board Member Katherine Bellissimo said.“We met so many wonderful people, and we look forward to many more successful events.”

Two of the celebrity bartenders Jessica Springsteen and Paige Bellissimo
Two of the celebrity bartenders Jessica Springsteen and Paige Bellissimo

Guests were also encouraged to participate in the silent auction, which featured items from several Brooke USA ambassadors, offering the rare opportunity to place bids on riding lessons with Brooke USA Ambassadors including JJ Tate, Allison Springer, Tik Maynard and Sinead Halpin. Local vendors from the show grounds and Asheville community offered unique experiences with local fares, featured dining and personal wine tastings. Eventers were thrilled with a schooling package at Windurra Farm with Boyd Martin and others had their eye on the Taste of Tryon, a package that included dinners at the top restaurants at the TIEC. Belgian visual artist Ben Heine’s ‘Hey There’ is a stunning photograph of Reiki, a young donkey, and the artwork has become a popular item for Brooke USA. Proceeds from the event directly helped fund Brooke USA’s work in alleviating the suffering of horses, donkeys and mules internationally.

“People understood the plight of working equines, especially donkeys after attending our event,” Brooke USA Executive Director Emily Dulin said. “We just completed fundraising for the construction of shade shelters in Ethiopia and the campaign was a wonderful success. We saw further support with the bidding on the donkey photographs that have become a token item at our silent auctions, selling all three. I am so happy to see the continued support from the community.”

To learn more about Brooke USA, please click here. You can also contact Brooke USA at 859-296-0037 or


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