Weekend polo supports medical charities

Burn patients and kids with diabetes got a boost by way of Saturday’s festivities on Whitney Field, with this year’s Augusta Polo Cup being held on the eastern side of the Savannah River.

The equestrian fundraiser, now in its fourth year, featured a 6-5 win by the Mullins Land squad (composed of Frank Mullins, Summer Kneece, Matt Sekera and David Meunier) over the BRCA Foundation team (Tessa Lord, Dr. Juan Socas, Max Hempt, Sofi Lorenzo and Brent Boland).

BRCA, in this case, represents the Burn and Reconstructive Centers of America, a beneficiary of the event, as was Camp Sweet Escape, a facility of the South Carolina Youth Diabetes Association.

Frank Mullins, with the winning team, is a brother of the late Dr. Fred Mullins, an Augusta native who died June 14 at age 54, having served as medical director of the JMS Burn Center at Doctors Hospital and as president/CEO of BRCA.

Saturday’s scene – “82 degrees and gorgeous,” as described by the event’s announcer – represented the solution to a challenge involving Daniel Field and the massive amount of air traffic involved with the Masters Tournament. The colossal golf tournament is normally held in April, but this year’s event has been rescheduled for November, due to COVID-19, and that created a scheduling conflict with the polo fundraiser.

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One of the longest-distance travelers of the day, coming up from west-central Florida, was Dr. Juan Socas, who played for the BRCA squad, having come up for the competition from his home base in Brandon, Florida, where he is the medical director of the local BRCA facility and performs plastic and reconstructive surgery.

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Frank Mullins, assessing Saturday’s action, said, “I think it’s turned out very well here today.”

Recalling the normal situation, in Augusta, he said, “We close one of the runways – the one that’s parallel to Wrightsboro Road – and then have it there in the grass between the runway and Wrightsboro Road … It’s grass, and that actually was a polo field back in the ’30s, before it was an airport, in the ’40s.”

He added, “A lot of famous people played polo over there, so there’s a historical precedent, but not as old as Whitney Field.”

Polo in Aiken dates back to 1882, and Whitney Field, according to the Aiken Polo Club’s website, is “the oldest polo field in continuous use in the United States.”

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