By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
Teen Cancer America, a national nonprofit organization founded by rock icons Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend from The Who, hosted a day of polo, fundraising and hospitality last Sunday, September 12, at Will Rogers State Historic Park.
The event raised funds and awareness for the TCA mission to develop specialized facilities and services for teens and young adults fighting cancer.
The day of fun included a champagne divot stomp, lawn activities like cornhole and lessons on how to swing a polo mallet, and stick pony races for kids. Participants sported sun hats and dapper bow ties to join TCA for polo matches and lunch to help provide critically important services for patients facing increased risk and isolation by the threat of COVID-19.
“This was our first live event in 18 months, we had about 150 between guests, volunteers and staff, and everyone had a wonderful time,” said Michelle Aland, director of development and partnerships for Teen Cancer America. “We’re based in Santa Monica, and the pandemic has adversely affected young patients by causing increased social isolation, limited availability of hospital beds, delayed diagnosis and increased risk of infection due to a compromised immune system. They need our help now more than ever.”
Aland shared that the theme of this year’s event was “Polo with a Purpose,” and she hopes TCA will be back in the Palisades for a backyard concert in the spring.
Among those arriving early in the morning to volunteer their time was Palisades Charter High School senior Avani Desai, co-president of Palisades Ambassadors, an organization founded in 2011 to allow students to collaborate and communicate, creating a collective voice for student leadership and school representation. She was joined by fellow Pali High 12th-graders Chris Clausen (ASB president) and William Rene (VP of Palisades Ambassadors).
“Sunday was so much fun and I’m glad I was there to help,” said Desai, who resides in El Medio Bluffs, went to Palisades Charter Elementary and Paul Revere Charter Middle schools, and plays on the Dolphins’ girls lacrosse team. “After Café Vida, my parents and I used to drive up there to watch [polo] from the trunk of the car, so I’m familiar with the sport. We got there at 7:45 a.m., helped set up the tables, changed into our formal wear, ushered people to their seats, then helped with the raffle and auction bidding.”
Guests enjoyed salads, sandwiches, ice tea and cocktails (The Draycott, a family-owned restaurant in the Village, donated the tequila) while watching matches between Will Rogers Polo Club players and players from HYT (an affiliate club out of LA Equestrian Center) and Fair Hills Farms in Topanga.
The event was co-hosted by TCA Advisory Council member, polo player and cancer survivor Grace Wang Mellis, and Palisadian attendees from the UCLA Teen Cancer America team included TCAA board member Jordan Kaplan and Becky Mancuso-Winding, executive director of UCLA Health Strategic Community and Business Relations. Other sponsors included First Citizens Bank, HyreCar, BondIt and Buffalo 8, Fair Hills Polo Club and IGA Capital.
“Our first polo event was at Will Rogers in 2019 and we had 400 people,” Aland said. “We didn’t have it in 2020 because of COVID and this year we weren’t allowed to have as many people, but we still met our capacity and we hope to have 400 once again in 2022. The student volunteers were the best ever.”
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.