Laura Kraut and Nick Skelton to be auctioned off as dinner companions for charity

  • Laura Kraut and Nick Skelton will be the headline items in the live auction at next month’s Just World Gala, an annual fundraiser for the official charity of the FEI, started by former grand prix rider, Jessica Newman.

    “I’ve done it before and people like my stories and what I’ve done over the years,” said Nick, who will attend the gala, which coincides with the Winter Equestrian Festival. “It’s good fun and it’s for a great cause.”

    Both Laura and Nick are ambassadors of the charity – Nick’s involvement started after his team gold medal win at the London Olympics.

    “He came over here on his bicycle and said I want to help you guys raise funds,” said Jessica, whose charity now helps 10,000 children worldwide. “He had just won team gold and ended up donating his helmet to the gala auction, which he signed, and which went for a lot.”

    Jessica Newman overseeing preparations for the annual 'Wizard of Oz-themed Just World Charity gala

    Jessica Newman prepares for the Wizard of Oz-themed Just World Charity Gala

    Jessica started Just World after a charity stint in Honduras in 1988. “I saw extreme poverty for the first time, which completely shocked me,” she said. “Until then I had been a grand prix rider competing in Europe and North America. At that moment I thought my life purpose was to do something about it.”

    The charity initially focused on education, but soon added a nutrition and health component as well as vocational training. Active in Hondura, Guatemala and Cambodia, the charity also provides a literacy program to a migrant community in Belle Glade, Florida.

    “I felt that there were a lot of people in the horse world who would like to be involved in charity work, but it had to fit the way horse shows are structured and the way the industry is structured,” said Jessica. “Officials, judges, course designers, show managers all got involved as well. We are the official charity partner of the FEI because there’s no other organisation that was born out of the equestrian world and is completely fuelled by the equestrian world.”

    The annual gala, which has a Wizard of Oz theme this year, takes place on March 11 in the Grand Prix Village, next door to the International Equestrian Center Palm Beach and the Winter Equestrian Festival.

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