CANFIELD TWP, Ohio (WKBN) – Mike and Andrea Groubert are the owners of Willowbrook Polo Farm, and you may recognize their story. Mike and Andrea were nominated for this week’s Hometown Heroes segment by Andrea’s mom.
Back on July 30, they were notified of a tragic accident on I-76, killing professional polo player William Tankard. Three polo horses were also killed, but seven horses he was traveling with were badly injured. The horses were taken to a nearby farm to be stitched up and bandaged, then were taken to Mike and Andrea’s farm in Canfield Township.
Mike says, “When we walked in the barn that night and saw the wounded legs and faces, it was devastating.” For 21 days, the seven surviving horses were in their care. They also opened their home to the family of the man who passed away. William Tankard’s mother and girlfriend came and stayed with them while the horses healed. And so they could heal too.
“This tragedy has brought so many people together, has shown people that there is good humanity, there’s love, there’s generosity,” says Andrea. They themselves were amazed at how many volunteers came out to help, averaging 25-30 people on the farm every day. Each horse needed their wounds cleaned each day, needed fed, needed their stalls cleaned, and needed to be walked, by lead, for at least 30 minutes a day.
With all that help, Mike and Andrea say they are reluctant Hometown Heroes. “The community is the ones who stepped up. They’re the real heroes in this.”
The community also helped with medical bills and supplies, even helping to feed the volunteers on the farm. A few of those who assisted were Tractor Supply Company, Grier Farms, Agland, Rogers Mill, SCF Bedding, Panera Bread, Lisbon Vet Clinic, and Saddle Creek Farms.
Things are much quieter at their Willowbrook Polo Farm now. All of the horses have returned to South Carolina, but not without some tears being shed. Mike and Andrea said me it was hard to see them go, but they are keeping in touch with the family of William Tankard, who they now consider good friends. They will get to see the horses and the family in about a month when they attend a memorial service for William Tankard.