Blue ribbon finish for Wesley Clover Parks' equestrian soirée in aid of Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation

Unique new fundraiser, held during Ottawa Equestrian Tournaments, features sport of show jumping
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Organizers have really raised the bar with a creative new soirée that promotes the equestrian sport of show jumping, while also bringing in roughly $50,000 for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation.

Spurs & Sparkles, presented by Ottawa Special Events, roped in an impressive crowd of 370 attendees to the first-time charity event, held at Wesley Clover Parks on Monday night. Attendees basked in some summer sunshine, in an elegant but relaxed setting. They ate, drank, and socialized beneath a gorgeous marquee tent that has been set up as part of the two-week-long Ottawa Equestrian Tournaments, which continue to run Wednesday until Sunday.

The team at Wesley Clover Parks knew the tent was going to sit empty Monday, during a break in the show-jumping competitions. They decided to put the lovely space to good use by hosting a big fundraiser for the community — one that would be unlike anything Ottawa has seen before.

Brookstreet Hotel catered the food stations. Organizers recruited Zack, the top hat-wearing donkey, and his pony pal Lamb Chops to greet guests on the blue carpet. The tent's front entrance is designed as a giant horseshoe.

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Wesley Clover Parks, located in Ottawa's west end, hosted the inaugural Spurs & Sparkles soirée for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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The Spurs & Sparkles soirée was catered by Brookstreet Hotel. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Zack greets guests on the blue carpet as they arrive to Spurs & Sparkles, a new fundraising soirée for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, held at Wesley Clover Parks on Monday, July 15, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Organizers chose the cancer foundation as a way of “honouring those loved ones that our team has lost to this horrible illness,” said Karen Sparks, a grand prix rider and director of Wesley Clover Parks. She co-chaired Spurs & Sparkles with Catherine McLaughlin, whose 15-year-old daughter Charlotte is an equestrian rider. She won silver and gold medals during the 2018 North American Youth Championships.

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From left, Catherine McLaughlin and Karen Sparks co-chaired the new Spurs & Sparkles soirée for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, held at Wesley Clover Parks' equestrian centre on Monday, July 15, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Charlotte and her father, Terlin Construction president Terry McLaughlin, made quite a team, along with CTV Ottawa sports director Terry Marcotte. They took top spot on the podium in the evening's much-anticipated Get Up & Gallop competition.

The fun three-part race saw show-jumping riders and their horses partner up with corporate sponsors and celebrities to try and complete an obstacle course in the fastest time. The team effort involved show jumping, shooting a ball down the field with a hockey stick, and navigating a golf cart to the finish line. The course was designed by Wesley Clover Parks’ events manager, Tracy Howard. Spectators were encouraged to hedge their bets, Calcutta auction style, with all dollars going to the cause.

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From the first-place winning Team Terlin are, from left, Terry McLaughlin, president of Terlin Construction, with his daughter, Charlotte, and Terry Marcotte, sports director of CTV Ottawa. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Ten-time Olympian Ian Millar participated, as did his daughter Amy Millar, son Jonathon Millar, and daughter-in-law Kelly Soleau-Millar. The family lost its matriarch, Lynn Millar, to cancer in 2008. The family also donated to the live auction a day of private riding lessons at their Millar Brooke Farm in Perth.

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That's legendary Ian Millar participating in the Get Up & Gallop competition during the Spurs & Sparkles soirée for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, held at Wesley Clover Parks' equestrian centre on Monday, July 15, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Charlotte McLaughlin on her horse at the Spurs & Sparkles soirée, held Monday, July 15, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Prominent high-tech entrepreneur Terry Matthews, founder and chairman of Wesley Clover International, ended up being a spectator. Subbing for him on his team was his daughter, Karen Sparks, who’s also on the board of the Wesley Clover Foundation. She was such a good sport — chasing the ball down the course, with hockey stick in hand, while wearing a long gown.

Funny coincidence: Sparks' nickname in the equestrian community is Sparkles.

She was joined by former Ottawa mayor Larry O’Brien and Ian Millar, who were so entertaining to watch as they came into the home stretch in their golf cart. O’Brien and Millar made exaggerated galloping motions with their body, just like true cowboys.

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Karen Sparks, with her father, Sir Terry Matthews, at the inaugural Spurs & Sparkles soirée for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, held at Wesley Clover Parks on Monday, July 15, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Team Wesley Clover Foundation participants Ian Millar (left), Karen Sparks and former Ottawa mayor Larry O'Brien — doing his signature "thumbs up" gesture" — at the inaugural Spurs & Sparkles soirée for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, held at Wesley Clover Parks on Monday, July 15, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips

In second place in the Get Up & Gallop Competition was Team Telus, with Shannon Gorman behind the wheel, media personality Lianne Laing doing the stick handling, and junior superstar rider Sam Walker. They were followed by Team Mark Motors with rider Jonathon Millar, Ottawa Redblacks defensive lineman Nigel Romick and Mark Motors Group executive vice president Liza Mrak. It wasn’t surprising to see them make the podium; Mrak handled her golf cart like it was a 911 GT2 RS Porsche.

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Team Mark Motors members Nigel Romick (left), Liza Mrak and Jonathon Millar on the podium after taking third place at the Get Up & Gallop competition held during the inaugural Spurs & Sparkles soirée for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, at Wesley Clover Parks. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Team Telus, with Lianne Laing, Shannon Gorman (executive director at TELUS Friendly Future Foundation) and Sam Walker, took second place at the Get Up & Gallop competition held during the inaugural Spurs & Sparkles soirée for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, at Wesley Clover Parks on Monday, July 15, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Terlin Construction president Terry McLaughlin with his daughter, Charlotte, and wife, Catherine McLaughlin, co-chair of the inaugural Spurs & Sparkles soirée for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, held at Wesley Clover Parks on Monday, July 15, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Also competing were: Team Solace with Solace president and CEO Les Rechan, Ottawa Senators alternate captain Jean-Gabriel Pageau and rider Melissandre Lincourt; Team Business Ottawa Journal with chief marketing officer Terry Tyo, New Hot 89.9 radio personality Jenni Condon and rider Taylor Brooks; Team Pure Country with Bell Media regional vice president and general manager Richard Gray, Ottawa Redblacks offensive lineman Nolan MacMillan and rider Beth Underhill; Team Inflector with Wesley Clover Foundation board member and Wesley Clover Parks COO Tony Dunn, Ottawa Senators defenceman and alternate captain Mark Borowiecki (his wife, Tara, was on the organizing committee) and rider Kelly Soleau-Millar; Team RBC with the bank's regional president, Marjolaine Hudon, retired Canadian alpine skier Ryan Semple and rider Hugh Graham; and Peter Gilroy from Ottawa Special Events with the Ottawa Senators' mascot, Spartacat, and rider Amy Millar.

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From left, Team Solace with Les Rechan, left, Melissandra Lincourt and Jean-Gabriel Pageau got into the fun spirit of the Get Up & Gallop competition held during the inaugural Spurs & Sparkles soirée for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, at Wesley Clover Parks on Monday, July 15, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Team Ottawa Business Journal members Taylor Brooks, Terry Tyo and Jenni Condon look like they're ready for some trash talking while posing prior to the Get Up & Gallop competition held during the inaugural Spurs & Sparkles soirée for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, at Wesley Clover Parks on Monday, July 15, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Team RBC members Ryan Semple, Marjolaine Hudon and Hugh Graham show off their enthusiasm over competing in the Get Up & Gallop competition held during the inaugural Spurs & Sparkles soirée for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, at Wesley Clover Parks on Monday, July 15, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Team Inflector members Tony Dunn, left, Kelly Soleau-Millar and Mark Borowiecki participated in the Get Up & Gallop competition held during the inaugural Spurs & Sparkles soirée for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, at Wesley Clover Parks on Monday, July 15, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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That's Les Rechan, president and CEO of Solace, behind the wheel, joined by Jean-Gabriel Pageau in the passenger seat and Melissa Lincourt on the back, trying to complete the obstacle course in the Get Up & Gallop competition. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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No pressure for Ottawa Senators player Mark Borowiecki as he completes the stick and ball handling portion of the Get Up & Gallop competition held during the inaugural Spurs & Sparkles soirée for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, at Wesley Clover Parks on Monday, July 15, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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The Spurs & Sparkles organizing committee included, from left, Tara Borowiecki ​​​​​​, Robyn Cyr, Catherine McLaughlin and her co-chair, Karen Sparks, Nathalie Levasseur, and Tracy Howard. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Peter Gilroy, owner of presenting sponsor Ottawa Special Events, with Tracy Howard, events manager at Wesley Clover Parks and one of the co-organizers of the Spurs & Sparkles soirée. Photo by Caroline Phillips

Kent Browne from Royal Lepage Team Realty led the live auction, clutching a mini gavel that served more as a pointer stick than anything.

The auction featured a day at The Marshes Golf Club and Brookstreet Hotel with Borowiecki; a polo lesson with Anne Marie LeBrun and Jeremy Monette of Field Day Farm, with a picnic supplied by Brookstreet; diamond hoop earrings from Howard Fine Jewellers and Custom Designers;  a champagne and charcuterie VIP experience for six for the Ottawa Equestrian Tournaments' grand prix; and a 100-level box for the Celine Dion concert at the Canadian Tire Centre, donated by Wesley Clover Foundation. To sweeten the pot, Browne offered to pitch in some money to cover food and drinks at the concert.

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Charity auctioneer Kent Browne, owner of Royal LePage Team Realty, in action at the inaugural Spurs & Sparkles soirée for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, held at Wesley Clover Parks on Monday, July 15, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Jesse Papastavros, from The Whalesbone, shucking oysters during the inaugural Spurs & Sparkles soirée for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, at Wesley Clover Parks on Monday, July 15, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation board chair Cory Ready, portfolio manager with BMO Nesbitt Burns with his girlfriend, Vanessa Wesley, at the inaugural Spurs & Sparkles soirée for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, at Wesley Clover Parks on Monday, July 15, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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From left, Nadia Amaral with Vlad Beno and Michael Mrak, co-owner of Mark Motors Group, at the inaugural Spurs & Sparkles soirée for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, at Wesley Clover Parks on Monday, July 15, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Stephanie Appotive, co-owner of Howard Fine Jewellers and a recent Forty Under 40 award recipient, with Frank Spagnolo at the inaugural Spurs & Sparkles soirée for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, held at Wesley Clover Parks on Monday, July 15, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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The inaugural Spurs & Sparkles soirée held at Wesley Clover Parks attracted some local equestrian families, including sponsor Dan Carruthers, his wife, Denise Carruthers, their daughter, Kaylah, 14, and fellow rider Sasha Maniaci, 15, and her mom, Laurie Maniaci. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Linda Eagen, president and CEO of the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, with show-jumping legend Ian Millar at the inaugural Spurs & Sparkles soirée for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, at Wesley Clover Parks on Monday, July 15, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Barres and Wheels owner Marie Boivin and Tom Manley, chairman of the board of directors at Solace, at the inaugural Spurs & Sparkles soirée for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, held at Wesley Clover Parks on Monday, July 15, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Ottawa Senators player Jean-Gabriel Pageau with Tara Beechey, senior manager of events for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, at the inaugural Spurs & Sparkles soirée for the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation, at Wesley Clover Parks on Monday, July 15, 2019. Photo by Caroline Phillips
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Podium winners from the Get Up & Gallop competition were, from left, Jonathon Millar, Nigel Romick, Liza Mrak, Terry Marcotte, Charlotte McLaughlin, Terry McLaughlin, Shannon Gorman, Lianne Laing and Sam Walker. Photo by Caroline Phillips

— caroline@obj.ca