Wellington, Fla. — Feb. 23, 2023 – The equestrian community gathered for a day of show jumping competition followed by an elegant evening reception to share their love and support at the 2nd annual 501(c)3 Kevin Babington Foundation Tuesday, February 21st. Hosted by Victoria McCullough, guests were welcomed to McCullogh’s breathtaking Wellington property.
Jeff Papows, a longtime friend and occasional student of Kevin Babington, has devoted much of his time and energy over the past few years to help show jumpers suffering spinal cord injuries in the sport in any and all ways possible.
“I would literally give him my heart if he needed it, though it would no doubt be 3 times too small in contrast. I’d do anything for Kevin. He is beloved and has done so much before his fall — it’s just because of the way he is. The courage, tenacity, kindness and patience he has shown post his fall is nothing less than super human. I can’t wait to embrace him standing,” comments Papows.
The Kevin Babington Foundation was founded in 2019 to provide funding and support for equestrian show jumping athletes that sustain spinal cord injuries. In addition to providing financial assistance, the foundation strives to educate riders, trainers and show organizers about the most current safety measures designed to reduce the risk of serious injuries that can occur while riding.
“The unfortunate thing about [show jumping] is that it’s the world’s most beautiful sport, but it’s also one of the most dangerous sports,” Papows remarks. “When the unfortunate happens, and you’re living your worst nightmare, you need somebody there who’s by your side.”
That is exactly what the Babington Family, equestrian community and Papows does for Babington.
Riders had the opportunity to compete on Mida Farm’s picturesque grass field over a 12 jump course of exceptionally built fences donated by Dalman Jump Co. If horse-and-rider combinations went clear and within the time allowed of 78 seconds in the first round, they were invited to compete over an eight fence jump-off course that required riders to make tight turns and gallop home through the timers. Spectators saw a total of 45 horse-and-rider combinations and five double-clear rounds throughout the afternoon, but there was one rider who took some risks to win it all. Jordan Coyle and Elan Farm’s Lisaniska Cool Quality put their speed to the test to take home the tri-color ribbon and crystal trophy.
After a long day of competition, riders and spectators were welcomed back to McCullogh’s estate for a celebration. Papows and McCullough took the stage to thank all who came to support the cause. The man of the day, Babington, also gave a heartfelt thank you to all those who have been by his side and have supported him along the way.
“I would like to thank Victoria so much for opening her farm and house for such an amazing day showing everyone what show jumping is meant to be. Last year was very special, [and] this is better still,” remarks Babington with a smile. “Jeff — I don’t know how he gets the time or imagination to do everything he does leading the foundation. Victoria — for the tens of thousands of horses she has saved. My friends are always there to come and support anything that the foundation has to offer, and that means so much to me, not just for myself or family, but Kim, David, Alexis and all my brothers and sisters who put a foot in the stirrup iron… From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much.”
The evening’s festivities allowed all involved with the Kevin Babington Foundation to gather and celebrate Babington and the extensive work the foundation has done for the community.
Babington Benefit Classic
1st – Jordan Coyle (IRE) & Lisaniska Cool Quality
2nd – Cian O’Connor (IRE) & Geste
3rd – Luis Larrazabal (VE) & Kontenda
4th- Daniel Dusser (GER) & The Best I Ever Had
5th- Jacqueline Steffens (CA) & Funk You
6th- Daniel Coyle (IRE) & Jasper
Mark your calendars for another exciting and entertaining evening benefitting the Kevin Babington Foundation as the highly anticipated “Kevin’s Queens” will be returning to Wellington March 26th!