The soldout VIP fieldside tent had the best view in the house to watch polo.

The soldout VIP fieldside tent had the best view in the house to watch polo.

By Sharon Robb

CARBONDALE, Colo., August 15, 2018---The Chukkers, Champagne & Caviar  fundraiser at Aspen Valley Polo Club topped last year's total for the Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation.

The club's summer marquis charity event, hosted by club owners Marc and Melissa Ganzi and Aspen Valley Hospital, raised $537,200, more than last year's total of $366,000.

The day-long event, held during the August 12 Rocky Mountain Open, was a winning combination of polo, sponsors and donors raising much-needed funding for facilities, new technology and programs. The funds raised will support the hospital's construction project, state-of-the-art technology such as new women's imaging technology and hospital's ongoing operations.

The soldout crowd in the fieldside VIP tent enjoyed a lavish menu prepared by Caribou Club Catering of Aspen with white-glove service and impeccable attention to detail.

The highlight of the day was the live polo player auction. Guest auctioneer John Sarpa of the Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation Board served as emcee and auctioneer. Silent auction items donated by local Aspen businesses included Rolex watches and travel package to the Fiji Islands.

The crowd was thoroughly entertained as Sarpa directed lively bidding for the winning La Karina team and runners-up Aspen Valley Polo Club. In a spirited  players auction Juan Bollini and Marc Ganzi earned the highest bids with Bollini going at $25,001 and Marc Ganzi at $25,000. The winning bidders were invited to present the winning trophy to the La Karina team.

In addition to the auctions, there were kids activities, fashion models and various vendor tents featuring luxury items.

The Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation, now entering its sixth year, is a non-profit solely focused on encouraging philanthropic support for the current and future needs of Aspen Valley Hospital. 

"It was a great event," said Deborah Breen, AVHF President and CEO.  Breen was named the foundation's first president in January 2013 after working in the philanthropic field for 17 years.

Two years ago Breen and Melissa Ganzi decided to turn the Community Day celebrating the 125th anniversary into "something special" with a "build it, they will come" mentality. Now the sky's the limit for future events.

"We realized this event could have real legs and we could make something special because it was different and unique," Breen said. "Melissa said let's go for it."

Aspen Valley Hospital is an important asset that delivers excellent care to the small mountain community, thanks in part to the funds raised at this annual benefit. 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 125 years. 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.

"As a result of these improvements, every clinical area is now housed in new or newly-renovated space. However, we still have work to do. Funds raised at the Polo Benefit will support the remaining phases of construction, which include space for The Renee and Lester Crown Center for Specialty Care, offering new space for medical specialties," according to AVHF. "It will also include a Central Atrium with upgraded registration and admissions areas to improve patient navigation to inpatient and outpatient areas."

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.

Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation is a 501(c)(3) IRS designated organization that oversees all charitable giving to Aspen Valley Hospital. Gifts can be made at supportaspenvalleyhospital.org or by mail to Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation, 0401 Castle Creek Road, Aspen., Colo., 81611.

"We were just delighted that everybody was there for a wonderful day of polo," Breen said. "We are so excited to be dedicating all these proceeds to the Aspen Valley Hospital Foundation and terrific work going on there."

The event attracted 81 sponsors. They were: Alchemy, Aspen Brewing Company, Aspen Meadows Resort, Aspen Peak Magazine, Aspen Reprographics, Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Aspen Skiiing Company, Aspen Valley Hospital Medical Staff, Aspen Valley Polo Club, Aspen Vida Medical Spa, Barton Perreria, Basalt Printing, Beverly Hills Caviar, Bloomingbird's, Builders First Source, Caribou Club, Carol Dopkin, Castle Creek Cafe at AVH, Chequers, ChukkerTV, Clark's Market and Pharmacy, Codi Luxe, Cos Bar, Dennis Basso, Dolce and Gabbana, Douglas Elliman, Elliott Yearly Gallery, Entourage Rose, Evoke Women, Faboo, Fiji Water, Gran Farnum, Harrington Smith, Hollyann, Honeytree Botanicals, Jay's Valet, Jet Marketing, Jitrois, Jimmy's, Judy Hill Lovins, Kali's Aspen, KCOR Design, KitchenAid, Lash, Lugano, Maison Ullens, Martin Engineering, MAX, Meridain Jewelers, Model Team Aspen, Moncler, Nuages, O2 Aspen, Paradise Bakery, Piper-Heidsieck, Premier Party Rental, Roosters Carbondale, Scott LaDu, Sharon and Todd Thaden, Silver Threads, Skip's Farm to Market, Specialized Protective Services, St. Regis, St. Regis Aspen, St. Regis New York, St. Regis Washington, D.C., St. Regis Houston, Starbucks, Sundance Liquor, Susan Carrolan Millenary, The Aspen Times, The Little Nell, Tito's Handmade Vodka, Tommy Tolleson, Too Haute Cowgirls, Two Leaves and a Bud, Woody Creek Distillers, Maison Ullens, Theresa Rogers Jewelry Collection, Silver Threads and The Horse in Sport. 

This weekend's Mount Sopris Cup sponsored by The Mandarina Polo & Equestrian Club and featuring several top players including Sapo Caset, brothers Alejandro and Nacho Novillo Astrada and Nic Roldan, will be the eighth grass tournament and tenth overall of the 13-tournament schedule that features ten grass tournaments including the inaugural Aug. 31-Sept. 2 Triple Crown of Polo Trophy and three arena tournaments. 

La Karina is this summer's winningest team with three tournament titles. In addition to La Karina, other winners have been:, Piocho Ranch in the Independence Cup and Craig Sakin Memorial; Los Amigos Blue in the ChukkerTV Challenge; and Los Amigos Red in the High Alpine Cup.

With the majestic 12,965-foot summit of Mount Sopris as a backdrop, Aspen Valley Polo Club is one of the busiest and fastest growing USPA-sanctioned clubs in the nation with a membership increase of 75 percent over four seasons.

Since Marc and Melissa Ganzi founded the club in 2014, polo has increased in popularity in Aspen and surrounding cities with the club’s offerings of various weekly grass and arena tournaments, Gladiator Tuesdays and Asado, Kids Polo, The Polo School and Polo On Demand. In addition, the club offers practice sessions for teams competing in the weekend tournaments.

In the last four years, Aspen Valley Polo Club has had a positive impact in the area hosting kids polo camps, teaching lessons and hosting several charitable events at the club that have benefitted local charities. 

The Ganzis are avid players and patrons and "have created a polo paradise" according to Piocho Ranch padron Tom Barrack. Players, sponsors, community leaders and fans share Barrack's sentiments.

ASPEN VALLEY HOSPITAL FOUNDATION

In 2012, Aspen Valley Hospital formed its own fundraising entity solely focused on encouraging philanthropic support for the current and future needs of Aspen Valley Hospital. The non-profit oversees all charitable giving to the hospital, including for its expansion and renovation project.

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