Many of the clients aren’t ambulatory and they experience the world from a wheelchair looking up. Putting them on a horse allows them a whole different view on life."
by Emily Baker
Every year the Boulder Derby party plays a huge role as a fundraiser and benefit for Front Range Hippotherapy, and this year was no exception. The title was a bit of a misnomer this year, however, as CU graduation forced the fundraiser south to Denver. But this just meant that they were fortunate enough to hold the party in the spacious and opulent West Club Lounge at Mile High.
The rain poured down in sheets as partygoers pulled up to Sports Authority Field this past Saturday for the Boulder Derby Party. Attendees dodged rivers and streams as they navigated the waterlogged concrete landscape to the stadium, but this did not deter them. In spite of the weather, the turnout was impressive and the donors generous.
Every year since its incitement, the Boulder Derby party has benefitted Front Range Hippotherapy, a Colorado 501c3 founded by Amy and Rob Meilen. Front Range is located in Longmont, CO and is truly an incredible organization. They use trained physical therapists accompanied by equine partners to provide physical, speech, and occupational therapy to people ages 2-60.
This event is crucial to Front Range’s yearly operation. The cost and expense of running their organization came in at almost $180,000 in 2015. $62,603 of this came from donations, 99% of which came from the Boulder Derby Party fundraiser. In spite of this amount, Front Range is still operating on a shoestring budget. They desperately need an indoor arena, as last year they lost 55 days of therapy due to poor weather conditions. And their human therapists are severely underpaid. Not to mention they currently have a waitlist almost equal to their total number of clients, because they lack the funding to provide help to any more people at the present time. Hopefully fundraisers like this one can help Front Range provide their amazing services to more people year round.
I had the privilege of speaking with Rob Meilen who proudly stated that Front Range was really his wife, Amy’s, dream. As a physical therapist who had worked in many different clinics, and a rider since her teenage years, Amy envisioned a practice that combined her two passions to provide the best possible care and therapy for her clients. This dream came to fruition with Front Range Hippotherapy.
Now ten years old and boasting a herd of ten horses, Front Range has touched the lives of many. Rob states of the program, “Many of the clients aren’t ambulatory and they experience the world from a wheelchair looking up. Putting them on a horse allows them a whole different view on life.”
Front Range has a team of excellent human therapists, but the equine therapists are crucial to their work. “The horses and clients pick each other,” Rob said. For as we equestrians are well aware, the bond between a horse and rider is irreplaceable, and is changing the lives of each of Amy and Rob’s clients.
The party itself was also a hit. The West Club Lounge is a cozy indoor space with numerous TVs, a bar, and a welcoming fireplace. In addition, a large projector screen, copious seating, a buffet arrangement, and space for the silent and live auctions completed the scene for this special occasion. From time to time, a flash of light burst from one corner of the ballroom where partygoers could have a professional photo taken of them in their derby finest.
For the hour preceding the big event, the hosts also held a live auction complete with an authentic and talented auctioneer. This year, two of Front Range’s families bravely told their stories that brought them to the organization.
After the auction, guests migrated outside into the heart of Sports Authority Stadium to watch Nyquist take home the Kentucky Derby prize. What better place could one ask for to get a taste of the action?
At the end of the event all the partygoers were offered a gift bag with treats from the event’s sponsors.
The live and silent auctions were indeed successful, but Front Range could always use more support. It’s not too late to donate money or time if you go to their website. Or, better yet, mark your calendars to attend the Boulder Derby Party May 6th of next year in benefit of Front Range Hippotherapy!
by Anna Jensen
Derby dressing is really not that difficult, but take one look around at any stylish Derby party in any town and it's easy to see that when hats come into focus, a lot of women's style savvy appears to go out the door.
Although I have yet to attend the event at Churchill Downs, I have attended and been a guest in the Queens Enclosure at Royal Ascot WHILE attending Fashion School in London so that makes me doubly qualified to pass judgement on horse racing attire. Kidding, only kidding. Honestly, it is a very different and therefore difficult occasion, sartorially speaking, for ladies and gents alike. Hats are undoubtedly the centerpiece of most women's outfits today, ranging from exquisite to ridiculous, but why has having an ostentatious or eye-catching one become the thing to strive for? First, let me backtrack to how The Kentucky Derby became such a fashion and celebrity event in the first place: marketing. That's right. Back in the early days of the race, the "Sport Of Kings" had a pretty sleazy reputation here in the U.S. Racetracks were not a place for women of any standing and races were not at all the kind of social event they were in Europe. Events like The Epsom Derby and Royal Ascot required full morning dress, much like what we consider "formal attire" for men, but with a daycoat, and an appropriately fancy dress and accoutrements for women. These continental fixtures drew the upper class and were as important as anything else on the social circuit. Derby founder Col. Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr.' s idea was to send a carriage-full of high society ladies around to talk about how they were going to _be picnicking at the horse race and what lovely clothes they'd be wearing to create an aura of chic around the race. Hats at horseraces have always been a "thing" mostly because they are a stylish way to keep the sun off. Hats at the Derby and elsewhere didn't become SO outlandish until around the 1960's due to ladies competing to stand out now that the races were televised. So, whether you are headed for Kentucky, or any one of the wonderful parties going on in Denver and beyond, here are my tips for looking like you belong in Millionaire's Row:
1. Start shopping early. If you see a good "Derby Hat" any day of the year in any city or country, buy it. Seriously. You know how hard it is to find a special occasion dress when you're under the gun? Same for a great Derby hat, times 20. If you are under the gun, you're lucky that this year hat's are so "in" you can find adorable ones everywhere from Target to Charlotte Russe to Nordstrom and many boutiques. For Denver shoppers I'd say Neiman Marcus has a wonderful selection of quality milliners, after that you can head any direction in Cherry Creek to find a dress to work with it! Which brings me to #2
2. When you're planning your Derby outfit, start with your hat or fascinator. Fascinators only came into the common fashion lexicon on this side of the pond after the wedding of William and Kate...and essentially a piece of felt covered by fabric, netting, feathers, etc. and attached to the head in a variety of ways. The bonus with fascinators is they are sometimes more comfortable, definitely less hot, and they don't give you the dreaded hat-head look once it's removed. If your hat or fascinator is more ornate, go for a more simple sheath or flowy chiffon dress that doesn't take away from or compete with the hat.
3. You don't need to have your hat match your dress which matches your purse which matches your shoes. That just looks like you're trying too hard or you are indeed the Queen's mother. Just make sure there is a unifying theme. In general- a more elaborate hat calls for a more simple dress, a more elaborate dress calls for a more simple hat.
4. Plan for your footing! If you are going to a party where your on the grass you really don't want to be sinking in and ruining your heels in the grass. Either pick up some "Solemates" heel protectors (Bed, Bath and Beyond or Nordstrom) or find a beautiful jeweled sandal or ballerina flats. I think with most Derby attire being colorful, and wanting to keep the hat as the star of the show, nude tones are a good choice for footwear. "Statement" footwear is usually just going to be overkill.
5. For the men out there, have some fun! This is such a great opportunity to pull out the pastels, the seersucker, the bowties, bowlers and derby hats. Seeing a man get out of his comfort zone and transform into a southern gentleman, a preppy stud or anything out of the ordinary scores definite points with the ladies. That said, you don't want to totally look like you're part of the cast for "Newsies" so I'd avoid too much of the rolled up sleeves/vest/cap look that was oh-so-popular last year and the "I'm just gonna put on anything colorful that I can look". Choose a seersucker blazer paired with khakis and a white shirt, or some cheerful spring-hued pants with a white shirt and complementary hat are good ways to ease into it until you're more confident. Remember to wear a nice belt and good shoes and if you're really wanting to look smart and charming go with the bowtie...it worked for the men's style winner (below) last year!