Inaugural Spurs & Sparkles Soirée Provides Fun and Funds for Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation

July 16, 2019 - Ottawa, Ontario

Peter Gilroy (far left) and Chris Munro (far right) of Ottawa Special Events with the Spurs & Sparkles organizing committee, including Tara Borowiecki, Robyn Cyr, Catherine McLaughlin, Karen Sparks, Nathalie Levasseur, and Tracy Howard.
Photo by Jump Media
Team Terlin, comprised of (from left to right) Terry McLaughlin, Charlotte McLaughlin, and Terry Marcotte, won the inaugural Get Up & Gallop race at the Spurs & Sparkles soirée.
Photo by Jump Media
Charlotte McLaughlin’s quick time over the jumping course riding Dublin helped Team Terlin claim victory in the Get Up & Gallop race while raising funds for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation.
Photo by Jump Media
Team Ottawa Special Events races toward the finish line in the golf cart obstacle course. Peter Gilroy, owner of Ottawa Special Events, is at the wheel with Ottawa Senators mascot, Spartacat, and Canadian Olympic show jumping athlete, Amy Millar.
Photo by Jump Media

 More than 350 guests from throughout Ottawa, ON, and the equestrian community attended the inaugural Spurs & Sparkles soirée on Monday, July 16, at Wesley Clover Parks in Ottawa, ON, helping to raise approximately $50,000 for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation.

“We couldn’t have been more pleased,” said event co-chair and Executive Director of Wesley Clover Parks, Karen Sparks. “The uptake from both the equestrian community and the business community was overwhelming. When you run a first-time event, there are a lot of unknowns, but it all came together very well thanks to a great team and great support from the community!”

The main attraction of the all-new, exciting social event, hosted by Wesley Clover Parks and presented by Ottawa Special Events, was the featured Get Up & Gallop three-part race which brought together local celebrities, corporate business leaders, and top equestrians for a thrilling race against the clock.

Ten teams – each composed of one rider, one local celebrity, and one corporate sponsor – contested the race which required the rider to jump a course before hopping off their horse and running to an awaiting golf cart. Once the rider climbed into the golf cart, the team’s celebrity participant took off with hockey stick in hand to guide a floor hockey ball through a set goal. As soon as the hockey ball passed its mark, the whole team was back in the golf cart with the corporate sponsor driving through the final golf cart speed course.

Spectators got in on the action by purchasing Calcutta raffle tickets in support of the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation and placing their bids on the team they thought would finish in the fastest time.

“We wanted to come up with something totally new,” said co-chair Catherine McLaughlin, who was instrumental in developing the Get Up & Gallop concept. “We spent a lot of time talking about it and strategizing about what this event would look like because it was really about doing something different and introducing non-horsey people to the equestrian world.”

“The spectators loved it, the riders loved it, and the celebrities loved it,” added Sparks. “Everyone just had a blast!  I think it went over really well!”

Earning the inaugural Get Up & Gallop victory was Team Terlin, composed of Terry Marcotte, Sports Director at CTV News; McLaughlin’s husband and the president of Terlin Construction, Terry McLaughlin, and their daughter, Charlotte McLaughlin, as the local celebrity, corporate sponsor and rider, respectively.

Catherine McLaughlin joked, “I promise it was not fixed, they just kicked butt!  It was awesome.”

The other participating teams included:

  • Team Telus – featuring Shannon Gorman, the Executive Director at TELUS Friendly Future Foundation; Lianne Laing, a television personality and the host of the “Living Your Life with Lianne Laing” podcast; and top junior rider Sam Walker.
  • Team Solace – including Les Rechan, President & CEO at Solace; Jean-Gabriel Pageau, the center and alternate captain for the Ottawa Senators; and equestrian athlete, Melissandre Lincourt.
  • Team Ottawa Business Journal – composed of Terry Tyo, the Chief Marketing Officer at Ottawa Business Journal; Jenni Condon, an announcer and radio personality at The New Hot 89.9; and local rider Taylor Brooks.
  • Team Pure Country – including Richard Gray, the Regional Vice-President and General Manager of Radio & TV at Ontario and Atlantic Canada at Bell Media; Nolan MacMillian, an offensive lineman for the Ottawa Redblacks; and Canadian Olympian Beth Underhill.
  • Team Inflector – featuring Tony Dunn, the Chief Operating Officer of Wesley Clover Parks; Mark Borowiecki of the Ottawa Senators; and U.S Equestrian Team veteran, Kelly Soleau-Millar.
  • Team RBC – made up of Marjolaine Hudon, the Regional President at RBC; Ryan Semple, a Canadian Olympic alpine skier; and Olympic show jumping athlete Hugh Graham.
  • Team Mark Motors – including Liza Mrack, the Executive Vice President at Mark Motors Group; Nigel Romick, a defensive lineman for the Ottawa Redblacks; and Canadian show jumping athlete, Jonathon Millar.
  • Team Wesley Clover Foundation – featuring Karen Sparks, executive director of Wesley Clover Parks; Canadian businessman and politician Larry O’Brien; and 10-time Canadian Olympian Ian Millar.
  • Team Ottawa Special Events – composed of Peter Gilroy, owner of Ottawa Special Events; the Ottawa Senator mascot, Spartacat; and Canadian Olympian Amy Millar.

In addition to enjoying the Get Up & Gallop, guests participated in live and silent auctions and enjoyed cuisine provided by the Brookstreet Hotel, as well as freshly shucked oysters from The Whalesbone.  Refreshments were provided by numerous sponsors including Pommies, Calabogie Brewing, Top Shelf, Longshot Wine, and Steam Whistle.

Additional sponsors included Avant-Garde Designs, Pure Country 94, Canopy Growth Corporation, Robert Half, Ashton Bonnet Company, Raven, Custom Home Interiors, Novatech, Potvin Financial Services, Atwill Service Centre, The Marshes Golf Club, Howard Fine Jewellers, Geesbees, the Don & Shirley Green Family Charitable Foundation, Elizabeth White, and the Goldberg Family.

“It took a village or a small army!” said Catherine McLaughlin. “It took a whole lot of people to do what we did, and I could not be more thrilled and more grateful to everyone involved. I can’t wait until next year!”

The inaugural Spurs & Sparkles soirée took place between the two weeks comprising the Ottawa International I and II show jumping tournaments, held this year from July 10-14 and July 17-21.  Sparks recognized that there was an opportunity to support the local community by hosting an event in the Capital Tent, presented by Ottawa Tourism, on Monday evening when the horse show was enjoying a day off.

“We create the hospitality tent experience,” explained Sparks. “We have this massive tent, and we put so much time and effort into making it look nice and setting up the catering tent, and it sits empty on Sunday and Monday nights. We thought, let’s utilize the tent and do something good for the community on a day that it’s sitting empty!

“We decided to go with the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation because every single member of our team, myself included, has lost a loved one to cancer or currently has a loved one battling cancer,” concluded Sparks.  “It’s a cause that’s close to our hearts.”

To learn more about Spurs & Sparkles and the Ottawa Equestrian Tournaments, visit www.OttawaEquestrianTournaments.com.

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