By Sharon Robb
Photos by Nick Tininenko for ChukkerTV

CARBONDALE, Colo., November 5, 2021 — After a year‘s hiatus because of the pandemic, the Summer Polo Benefit at Aspen Valley Polo Club raised more than $500,000 for the Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation.

The club‘s summer marquis event, hosted by owners Marc and Melissa Ganzi and Aspen Valley Hospital, held the capacity to 200 VIP attendees adhering to COVID safety precautions, but still managed to raise the second highest total since the event was created in 2016.

„That was kind of a surprise,“ said Deborah Breen, Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation President and CEO. „At one point when we were planning this early-on I was thinking let‘s not lose money. We didn‘t know how many people we were going to be able accommodate or how many people would be willing to come to an event while we were still grappling with COVID and still are.

„We were just delighted that people stepped up in such a big way and helped out,“ Breen continued. „As per usual the players just jumped in, in a great way. Nacho Figueras was great. He auctioned himself off three times and brought in $60,000 alone. Nic Roldan also did a package where he offered to do a private lesson for up to six and champagne picnic with them. They were just great.

„We had a couple of trips that sold including a trip to Bordeaux (France), that was the top auction item and sold for over $16,000. We had some other great packages from a lot of businesses. The community really stepped up to support some great sponsors including  Gucci and Lugano Diamonds. It was just a really great community event.“

Guest auctioneer John Sarpa, Chair of the Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation Board of Directors, served as emcee and auctioneer. 

The fun, day-long event was held August 22 during the finals of the Rocky Mountain Open won by Casablanca (Marc Ganzi, Grant Ganzi, Gonzalito Pieres, Torito Ruiz) and Carbondale Classic, won by White Claw (Waqqas al-Siddiq, Vinny Sangaline, Gonzalito Pieres, Nacho Badiola).

It was a winning combination of polo, sponsors, donors and live auction between matches raising much-needed funding for hospital projects.

Alpine Bank and Vectra Bank were the event‘s top two sponsors. Martin Engineering, Crown Chocolate, The Steadman Clinic and Steadman Philippon Research Institute and Lugano Diamonds were major supporters.

Other businesses and individuals who provided special underwriting support were: Alchemy Concert Systems, Aspen Times, Aspen Brewing Company, AVH‘s Castle Creek Cafe, Basalt Mini Storage, Beverly Hills Caviar, Catena Wine, ChukkerTV, Decorative Materials, Fiji Water, Flowers by Harrington Smith, Jay‘s Valet, Made Here Beer, Mountain Waste and Recycling, Piattelli Wine, Premier Party Rental, Corrine and Lenny Sands, Starbucks, Sundance Liquor and Gifts, Sharon and Todd Thaden and Vertex Close Protection.

Guests in the fieldside VIP tent enjoyed a lavish menu prepared with white-glove service and impeccable attention to detail by Caribou Catering.

The Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation, now in its ninth year after being formed in 2012, is a non-profit solely focused on encouraging philanthropic support for the current and future needs of Aspen Valley Hospital. Breen was named the foundation‘s first president in January 2013 after working in the philanthropic field for 17 years.

„It just continues to grow and gain traction, and we are thrilled to be a part of it and honored to be working with the Ganzis,“ Breen said. „They always go above and beyond. They are so gracious and welcoming.“

Five years ago Breen and Event Chair Melissa Ganzi decided to turn the Community Day celebrating its anniversary into „something special“ with a „build it, they will come“ mentality.

Breen and her staff have already begun working on the August 2022 event. Dates are still being finalized. Before that, they are focused on the Dec. 16-20 Aspen World Snow Polo Championship. Aspen Valley Polo Club again has designated Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation as the philanthropic partner for the popular snow polo event.

Aspen Valley Hospital is an important asset that delivers excellent care to the small mountain community, thanks in part to the funds raised at the Summer Polo Event and World Snow Polo Championship. Aspen Valley Hospital has met important goals as evidenced by its high-ratings in patient satisfaction and quality of care.

Aspen Valley Hospital has been proudly serving the community for more than a century. In order to provide high quality healthcare the community deserves, the hospital continues to modernize and expand facilities, improve technology, and add space for clinics and medical specialties. 

With over 75 physicians on the medical staff, Aspen Valley Hospital has specialty services in more than 25 areas, with the most visible service areas being emergency/trauma, orthopedics, cardiology, diagnostic imaging, surgical services, physical and occupational therapy, oncology and infusion, lab/pathology, and maternity.

This past summer, Aspen Valley Polo Club finished another successful and historic season in club and Rocky Mountain Circuit history. With the majestic 12,965-foot summit of Mount Sopris as a backdrop, Aspen Valley Polo Club has become the world‘s destination spot for summer polo.     

Since Marc and Melissa Ganzi resurrected the club and polo in 2014, polo has increased in popularity in Aspen and surrounding cities with the club‘s offerings of various weekly grass and arena tournaments, Arena & Asado Nights, Kidz Polo, Kids Wheely Polo, The Polo School headed by former 8-goaler Juan Bollini, and Polo On Demand. In addition, the club offers practice sessions for teams competing in the club tournaments.