Edited Press Release
Wellington, Florida, USA – The FEI Youth Equestrian Games recently held in Aachen, Germany, offered a unique opportunity for 30 exceptional young athletes from 30 countries around the world to compete and shine. FEI official charity partner JustWorld International, added elements of philanthropy and leadership to the riders’ intense week in their saddles.
Multiple JustWorld Ambassadors competed in the team finals on Thursday, and four of them earned medals as well: from the winning team of Central and North America, Gabriela Maradiaga and Shannon Grubba, Claudia Moore from team Europe with second finish and from the third placed African team Amy Hay.
On Friday, JustWorld hosted a fun and interactive leadership development workshop, sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health, focused on empowering athletes to use their sport and the platform it provides to engage in charitable activities to create positive change in their own communities and around the world. During the workshop, riders worked together in teams to study and “adopt” one of JustWorld’s projects. The mocktail that followed the workshop brought the athletes, chefs d’équipe, coaches, and parents together with JustWorld Founder and President Jessica Newman, FEI Vice President Jack Huang, and Liz Barrett, Global Head of Equine Strategic Marketing at Boehringer Ingelheim. Longtime JustWorld Ambassador and 5* equestrian Kevin Staut talked to participants about how their power to make a positive impact to create a better world while finding their own happiness and fulfillment as athletes and human beings. Kevin also shared his experiences during visits to JustWorld’s projects in Cambodia and Guatemala.
The individual finals of the FEI Youth Equestrian Games took place on Saturday, and with Boehringer Ingelheim’s sponsorship of JustWorld’s Philanthropy and Leadership Program, the top three winners were able to allocate $3,333 each to the project their team had adopted the previous day. The competition champion, Thomas van Rijckevorsel from South Africa, chose to ensure that the entire community at JustWorld’s project in Guatemala has access to health care for the next three months. Second-place winner Jad Guerraoui from Morocco chose to provide clean drinking water to 1,500 children in Honduras, and third-place winner Mimi Gochman from the USA will ensure that the children at JustWorld’s project in Cambodia have healthy meals to support their learning.
We had a chance to have a few words with Thomas after the prize giving ceremony:
“Winning in Aachen with two African riders on the podium is huge for myself and for our country as well. To be well prepared we had a training camp with all the African riders a few weeks before the YEG and there we had the opportunity to ride many different types of horses. We are grateful for the program the FEI prepared for us including sessions on leadership and philanthropy, anti doping, media training and I could go on with how many interesting and valuable sessions they organized for us. To conclude the week, winning an individual gold and silver medal for Africa after winning a team bronze medal is just simply amazing. With our five African team mates we are just like a family and we would like to keep improving together as athletes and become responsible members of our community!“
Once again, young athletes in the equestrian community are leading the way in creating positive change in the world. JustWorld is looking forward to continuing to work with these exceptional young people as they return to their homes and put their power into action to make the world a better place.
“JustWorld is especially grateful to the FEI and Boehringer Ingelheim for making this Philanthropy and Leadership Program during the FEI Youth Equestrian Games possible and to the participants, parents, coaches, chefs d’équipe, and loyal JustWorld Ambassadors for their enthusiasm and support,” said Jessica Neman.