Polo on the Prairie raises $775,000 for cancer research, patient care

Dwight Yoakam concert moved to Stephens County Airport due to heavy rains  

Despite a Saturday morning storm that wreaked havoc on plans for this year’s Polo on the Prairie, May 18 at the Musselman Brothers’ Lazy 3 Ranch in Albany, Texas, the rains failed to dampen a record-breaking fundraising effort. More than 1,100 supporters of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center enjoyed a live performance by GRAMMY Award-winning country music star Dwight Yoakam. The event raised more than $775,000 for cancer research and patient programs at MD Anderson. This year’s fundraising brings Polo on the Prairie’s total support of MD Anderson to more than $7.4 million.

The original plan was to gather at the West Texas ranch to enjoy a U.S. Polo Association-sanctioned polo match, a chuck-wagon style barbecue dinner by Joe Allen’s Pit Bar-B-Q of Abilene and a private concert by Yoakam, capped by a spectacular fireworks show. Instead, with muddy roads too dangerous to travel and two inches of water in the tent, event planners quickly changed gears. With seven hours until the event was to start, MD Anderson staff and event volunteers contacted guests; procured a new stage and sound system; arranged for security and parking; and moved lights, linens, decorations, food and equipment to the Stephens County Airport.

Polo matches on May 16 and 17, played in Midland due to soggy field conditions prohibiting play at the ranch, featured the Lazy 3 and Prevalecer teams. Lazy 3’s Bauti Crotto, Nicolai Galindo, Mitch Horne and Molly Musselman took home the winning trophy.

MD Anderson’s Ben Melson, chief financial officer, addressed guests assembled for the relocated dinner and concert. He offered special thanks to Polo on the Prairie chairs Melinda and Henry Musselman of Midland, event hosts along with the John Musselman and Jimmy Musselman family; chair emeritus Mary Anne McCloud of Eastland; and committee members Michele Arnot, Suzan Cook, Pat Everett, Liz Green, Prissy Harvick, Marci Pearson and Virginia Musselman. Melson also recognized MD Anderson faculty and staff who traveled from Houston for the event.

“The success of this year’s event is due to the dedication of countless volunteers who refused to let a little rain dampen their spirits, but instead pulled off another record-breaking year in support of MD Anderson,” said Henry Musselman, who has served on the MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors since 1988. “This community-wide effort represented what Polo on the Prairie is all about: our West Texas neighbors united in Making Cancer History. We’re grateful for everyone who pitched in to make this event happen in support of the groundbreaking research and multidisciplinary care for which MD Anderson is known worldwide.”

Musselman and his family have hosted Polo on the Prairie since the inaugural event in 1987, welcoming thousands of West Texans who share their commitment to MD Anderson’s mission to end cancer in Texas, across the nation and around the world. The event, which attracts amateur and professional polo players from across the country who contribute their time, equipment and horses, has become a multigenerational tradition for many families.

Top sponsors included the Henry Musselmans; the AVJ Foundation of Abilene; Sharon and Bobby Floyd of Midland; Patricia and Jace Musselman of Laguna Beach, California; Julie and Jim Musselman of Dallas; Sewell Ford of Odessa; the Dian Graves Owen Foundation of Abilene; Louisa and Brendan Fikes of Midland; Jenni and Dan Hord of Midland; Jon Rex Jones of Albany; and WarrenCAT of Midland.

Event planners offered special thanks for assistance and services provided by: Laura Childress of CinerGy Works, Staging Solutions of Houston, Pantera Productions, Joe Allen and Josh Allen and Joe Allen’s Pit Bar-B-Que of Abilene, Brookshire’s Food and Pharmacy in Albany and United Supermarket in Breckenridge for drink donations and delivery, H&H Garden Center in Breckenridge, Boy Scout Troop 175 of Midland, Jimmy McKay, George Harvick, Gustavo Saucedo and the Cauble, Reyes, Roberto and Saucedo families, the Breckenridge NHS and PAL® teams, Larry and Robert Cauble, the Midland Polo Club, Hector Gonzales, Megan Flynn, the U.S. Polo Association, Vinnie Meyer of Texas POLO, Pyro Shows of Texas, Cauble Sportswear of Midland, Albany Rentals, WarrenCat, Steve Butman of Abilene, the Shackelford County Emergency Medical Service, Shackelford County Sheriff Ed Miller, Stephens County Sheriff Will Holt and deputies and Texas Department of Public Safety troopers.