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Polo on the Prairie Primed for 14th Year

Polo on the Prairie Primed for 14th Year
M. D. Anderson News Release 03/15/00

With the dawn of a bright, new century comes the comfort and joy in the tradition of Polo on the Prairie, the popular West Texas-staged fund raiser benefiting The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center April 15 at the Musselman Brothers Lazy 3 Ranch.

Embarking on its 14th year, Polo on the Prairie will feature the Texas twang of Cory Morrow, the part-time pizza delivery guy turned country music rising star. His increasingly popular melodies will round out the day of exhilarating polo play and Joe Allen's barbecue fare. Fireworks against the prairie sky, underwritten by Tom Sikes and Mr. and Mrs. Richard Donnelly, will close the festivities.

In addition to the reputation of Polo on the Prairie presenting a day of fun and excitement to raise money for cancer research, the story of human devotion is a trademark as well. Each year the gargantuan event near Albany, Texas, enlists the hard work and volunteer time of hundreds of area residents and their families who plan and execute the affair. Dedicated individuals manage a myriad of hands-on tasks, from toting hay and raising temporary paddocks for some 100-plus polo horses to assembling an endless sea of clothed tables topped with potted geraniums.

The busy months and crazy final days leading up to the extravaganza pay off, organizers assure, proudly pointing to the more than $1.5 million raised in the West Texas community since 1987 to fund cancer research and patient programs at M. D. Anderson.

"By the time Polo on the Prairie weekend arrives, we are exhausted but invigorated, overwhelmed but blessed," exclaims Mary Anne McCloud of Eastland, who co-chairs the event with her daughter and son-in-law Melinda and Henry Musselman of Midland. "It's the love and dedication of the countless number of people involved that drives us forward year after year. We all share in the mission of M. D. Anderson to eliminate cancer."

Each year, some 1,500 Polo on the Prairie supporters thrill to the prospect of seeing celebrities such as Tommy Lee Jones, who often donates his time and talent for the event, along with — more — other top amateur polo players who return each year to compete and sustain the effort.

This year, however, another popular personality under the tent will be Rachel Daly, the young artist who designed the artwork to grace the invitation, event poster and program cover. Daly — now 15 — first came to M. D. Anderson at age 3 when she was diagnosed with leukemia. In 1993, upon her third recurrence of the cancer, she received a bone marrow transplant and has been cancer free ever since.

During her years of treatment at the institution, she became very involved in the Children's Art Project. Since then, Daly's designs also have been displayed on Hanukkah, Valentine's and Everyday Greeting cards, and her bluebonnet note card creation has proven a most popular seller.

Contributions for this year’s Polo on the Prairie will help fund several programs:

  • Research into the genetics of childhood cancer. Five to 10 percent of all cancers are the result of inherited genes, which genetically predispose individuals for a greater cancer risk, and M. D. Anderson scientists are working to learn more about the link between genetics and cancer.
  • The Anderson Network Hospitality Room, a special room at M. D. Anderson where people can go for comfort and support from volunteers who have had similar cancer experiences.
  • A vital collection of scientific research journals at the Department of Carcinogenesis at M. D. Anderson's Science Park-Research Division in Smithville, which conducts research into understanding the causes of cancer and how to prevent it.
  • Research into melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer which is increasing at a rate of four percent every year — higher than any other cancer.
  • Publication of an inspirational gift book to be distributed by the Department of Chaplaincy and Pastoral Education at M. D. Anderson, which is 24-hour in-house spiritual support service program designed to minister to the needs of patients, families and staff.
  • Funding for the start up at Hendrick Cancer Center — an M. D. Anderson affiliate — of the Breast Cancer Chemoprevention Program. The project is designed to help educate West Texas women about breast cancer prevention, including possible participation in a clinical study for the Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene (STAR Trial), a protocol comparing the long-term safety of the two drugs in women at increased risk of breast cancer.

To receive information on Polo on the Prairie, contact 800/525-5841 or 713/792-3450.


© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center