BY JENNIFER KOHLHEPP
FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP — It’s a cause for which she is quite passionate.
Carol Stillwell is the driving force behind the 110th annual Monmouth County Horse Show. While many people are aware that she is chairing the event, they probably don’t know that thanks to her help, the show benefits cancer-stricken patients at Riverview Medical Center in Red Bank.
When competing in 1995 in the Marshall & Sterling finals at the Washington International Horse Show in Washington, D.C., Stillwell found out her father was ill with cancer. During the competition, she became so nervous and preoccupied with her father’s illness that she fell off her horse.
It was after this incident that Stillwell decided she had to do something to help her father and other people with cancer. She also believed that she needed to get the local community involved, along with a large corporation.
“I took a sabbatical from riding,” Stillwell said. “I selected the Monmouth County Horse Show because I felt it represented what I believed was a wonderful opportunity to help grow the horse show.”
The medical center became affiliated with the Monmouth County Horse Show in 1995, according to Jennifer Wood, spokesperson for the event.
“The end result is that we benefit a wonderful cause,” Stillwell said, calling the partnership “ideal” because it raises money through a well-known New Jersey event while incorporating her love of horses.
“I made a commitment to give back to the community and combine my love of horses with that,” Stillwell said. “The horse show has been gracious enough to allow us to use their venue to raise money.”
Leo Conroy, co-manager of the Monmouth County Horse Show, said, “It is through Carol Stillwell’s efforts that we have been able to donate almost $100,000 from every horse show for the past five years.
“There is no doubt that she has helped the show become bigger and more popular,” Conroy said. “More importantly, she has helped others in their fight against cancer.”
Stillwell is the president of Stillwell-Hansen Inc., an Edison-based company that provides total building management solutions to area businesses. Her company is a major sponsor of the Monmouth County Horse Show, including the title sponsorship of the $30,000 Grand Prix, according to Wood.
Stillwell also works on the “Ride for Riverview” horse show committee, which consists of various people who help raise money for the cause in different ways, according to Wood.
For example, Wood said Debra Raben, the sponsorship chair, attains sponsors for different classes and divisions at the horse show. The majority of the money from the class sponsors goes directly to the medical center. The sponsors raise approximately $50,000 every year.
According to Wood, the landscaping co-chairs raise almost $10,000 every year, and the silent auction co-chairs collect an additional $15,000 to $20,000 per year from miscellaneous sponsorships.
The event, Wood said, is accredited as New Jersey’s longest-running and most prestigious hunter and jumper horse show. It is sanctioned and recognized by Marshall & Sterling, the United States Equestrian Federation, the American Hunter-Jumper Foundation, the New Jersey Professional Horseman’s Association and the New Jersey Horse Shows Association. The show is also a member event of the World Champion Hunter Rider Program Tour.
This year’s event will be held Aug. 17-21 at East Freehold Park, located at 1500 Kozloski Road in Freehold Township. The park consists of 81 acres of show grounds.
The show will feature some of the top horses and riders in the country, Wood said
On Friday, participants can see the $15,000 Open Jumper Welcome Stake. Saturday will feature Family Day at Monmouth from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., where participants can enjoy games, rides, pony rides, clowns and face painting. The $10,000 Paul Miller Automotive Saab/Land Rover of Woodbridge Hunter Classic will also take place on Aug. 20. On Sunday, guests can take part in Juliam Farms Leadline classes, listen to a pipe and drum band, watch the $5,000 Junior-Amateur Owner Jumper Classic and the $35,000 Stillwell-Hansen Grand Prix.
The show benefits the Jane H. and John Marshall Booker Cancer Center at Riverview Medical Center, Wood said.
Since 1998, the Ride for Riverview has raised more than $500,000, which enables the center to enhance patient treatment rooms. Some of the proceeds have helped to fund programs and services such as intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), the next generation of cancer-fighting treatment technology. The Booker Cancer Center, which opened in 1998, offers comprehensive inpatient and outpatient oncology services in an environment that is comforting, easily accessible and technically advanced, according to Wood.
Admission and parking are free to the public during the event.
Vendor and trade prices range from $200 to $250, with oversized spaces available. Hookups and water cost extra. For vending information, call Ellen Tully, chairman of the vendor organizing committee, at (732) 462-0002. For other information, call (732) 842-4000 or visit www.monmouthcountyparks.com.