A storm the morning of May 18 tried its best to wreak havoc on this year’s Polo on the Prairie, originally scheduled at the Musselman Brothers’ Lazy 3 Ranch in Albany, Texas. But the heavy rains failed to dampen a record-breaking fundraising effort totaling 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 plan was to gather at the West Texas ranch for a U.S. Polo Association-sanctioned polo match, a chuck wagon-style barbecue dinner, a private concert and a fireworks show. With muddy roads too dangerous to travel and 2 inches of water in the tent where the post-championship match would have taken place, event planners quickly changed gears.
Rob Arnot called the county judge for permission to move the event to the Stephens County Airport in Breckenridge. Cynergy Works made arrangements for a new stage and sound system, and MD Anderson staff and volunteers got busy contacting guests; arranging for security and parking; and moving lights, linens, decorations, food and equipment.
The show went on and more than 1,100 MD Anderson supporters enjoyed the food and festivities, including a live performance by GRAMMY Award-winning country music star Dwight Yoakam. Polo matches took place in Midland May 16-17 after soggy field conditions prohibited play at the ranch. Lazy 3 won the championship match 6-3 over Prevalecer.
MD Anderson’s Ben Melson, chief financial officer, thanked guests and recognized faculty and staff who traveled from Houston for the event. He offered special appreciation to Polo on the Prairie chairs Melinda and Henry Musselman of Midland, event hosts along with the John Musselman and Jimmy Musselman families; chair emeritus MaryAnne McCloud of Eastland; and committee members Michele Arnot, Suzan Cook, Pat Everett, Liz Green, Prissy Harvick, Marci Pearson and Virginia Musselman.
“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,” says Henry Musselman, who has served on the MD Anderson Cancer Center Board of Visitors since 1988.
This year’s community-wide effort represented “what Polo on the Prairie is all about: our West Texas neighbors united in Making Cancer History,” he says. “We’re grateful for everyone who pitched in to make this event happen to benefit the groundbreaking research and multidisciplinary care for which MD Anderson is known worldwide.”
He 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. 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 Melinda and Henry Musselman, Midland; AVJ Foundation, Abilene; Sharon and Bobby Floyd, Midland; Patricia and Jace Musselman, Laguna Beach, California; Julie and Jim Musselman, Dallas; Sewell Ford, Odessa; Dian Graves Owen Foundation, Abilene; Louisa and Brendan Fikes, Midland; Jenni and Dan Hord, Midland; Jon Rex Jones, Albany; and Warren CAT, Midland.
Event planners offered special thanks for assistance and services provided by: Laura Childress of Cinergy Works; Staging Solutions, Houston; Pantera Productions; Joe Allen and Josh Allen and Joe Allen’s Pit Bar- B-Que, Abilene; Brookshire’s Food and Pharmacy, Albany; United Supermarkets, Breckenridge; H&H Garden Center, Breckenridge; Boy Scout Troop 175, Midland; Jimmy McKay, George Harvick, Gustavo Saucedo; the Cauble, Reyes, Roberto and Saucedo families; Breckenridge NHS and PAL® teams; Larry and Robert Cauble; Midland Polo Club; Hector Gonzales; Megan Flynn; U.S. Polo Association; Vinnie Meyer of Texas POLO; Pyro Shows of Texas; Cauble Sportswear, Midland; Albany Rentals; Warren CAT; Steve Butman, Abilene; Shackelford County Emergency Medical Service; Shackelford County Sheriff Ed Miller and deputies; Stephens County Sheriff Will Holt and deputies and Breckenridge Police Department; Texas Department of Public Safety troopers.