Celebrity and child advocate John Walsh and polo icon Nacho Figueras helped raise money for the Neil S. Hirsch Boys & Girls Club in Wellington during the “Celebrity Great Futures” brunch March 15.
The men co-chaired the event and helped surpass last year’s fundraising totals with the goal of providing a safe place for kids to hang out after school. The Boys & Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County offer a variety of programs to build skills, self-esteem, and values in kids. This year’s brunch followed a celebrity polo match at Grand Champions Polo Club in Wellington. After the brunch, a group of kids joined Palm Beach County Boys & Girls Club CEO Jaene Miranda, Figueras and Walsh for the coin toss to start the quarterfinals of the Piaget Gold Cup at the International Polo Club.
“We had about 150 kids from the Boys & Girls Club come to the match and onto the field for the coin toss,” said IPC facilities manager, Ray Mooney. “It was nice to see all the kids there.”
This was the second annual polo benefit for the Neil S. Hirsch Boys & Girls Club. The club is named after former polo player Hirsch who helped pay for renovations in 2013 to the 22,570-square-foot facility, which is just a few miles from the polo club. The new building has a computer lab, learning center, arts and crafts center, junior and senior game rooms, dance studio, teen lounge, a full kitchen, gymnasium, teen lounge and office spaces. The club charges a $30 membership fee for the school year.
The money raised from ticket sales and a silent auction will help pay for summer camp for 150 kids as well as provide scholarships for needy families. The silent auction included a mink stole, jewelry, equestrian art, polo lessons and the jersey worn by Figueras during the match before the brunch.
“Our expenses are pretty low for the event, so almost all the money raised goes directly to the club,” Mooney said.
Figueras is a fixture in the polo world and the face of Ralph Lauren’s polo fragrances. He has four children with his wife Delfina and is well known for helping children’s causes through polo. He founded an annual polo event for the Robin Hood Foundation that supports over 200 charities in New York. He also plays polo alongside Britain’s’ Prince Harry to raise funds for Sentebale, the charity that aids 400,000 orphans and vulnerable children in Lesotho.
Walsh, famous as host of “America’s Most Wanted,” is a polo player himself. After his son was Adam was kidnapped from a department store and killed in 1981, he co-founded the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. He is well known for his support of children’s programs.
“John Walsh got up and spoke during the brunch,” Rooney said. “He’s a very strong advocate for children’s safety. He had some very good things to say about how important the Boys & Girls Club is and what good it does for the community.”