Showjumping and Service in the Sunshine State

The start of the second semester brings with it the annual Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) in Wellington, FL, attracting several Foxcroft riders who, as part of the School's Exceptional Proficiency program, spend weeks at a time away from school competing. One of those students is Wilhelmina M. ’23, who has spent the majority of this winter in Florida. In between showjumping, meeting with tutors, and completing her academic coursework, Wilhelmina has also made time for service through her participation in the Great Charity Challenge and by volunteering with JustWorld International and Vinceremos Riding Center.
Hosted annually for the past 13 years at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, the Great Charity Challenge (GCC) is a highlight of WEF and has raised $17.5 million for 292 local non-profits. Talented showjumpers like Wilhelmina dress in costume in teams of three, with junior and amateur riders competing alongside top professionals and Olympians on a relay-race format course. At the end of the day, all involved — but especially the charities — benefit from the generosity garnered through this event.

Wilhelmina and her teammates Ella McCaw and Anna Wilks (who is also her trainer) competed earlier this month as the three little pigs riding for the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation. While the theme and charity were randomly paired to the trio, it couldn’t have been more perfect — their bright pink pig costumes were a visual clue of their support in the fight against breast cancer, a cause that is personally significant to Wilhelmina as a young woman, a daughter, and a student at an all-girls school.

Placing 11th overall, Wilhelmina and her teammates raised a total of $45,000 for the Komen foundation. She described the event as “confidence-building” for her and her mount, Discotido LS, as they were able to get back into a rhythm together in a competition where the stakes were a little different than the rest of WEF. Another horse of Wilhelmina’s, Fozzie, was teammate Anna’s equine partner in the GCC. This was Wilhelmina’s second time participating in the event. In 2021, she and her team raised $20,000 dressed as health care heroes and rode for the Center for Trauma Counseling.

Outside of the show ring, Wilhelmina’s dedication to service is demonstrated by her involvement with two non-profits. JustWorld International does work in Honduras, Guatemala, Cambodia, and the United States to address the needs of children in areas with high poverty and high crime rates, bringing together the resources and dedication of the equestrian community to make a difference in these communities. Wilhelmina serves as an ambassador for JustWorld and helps to fundraise, recruit other ambassadors, and plan and develop projects.

Vinceremos Riding Center serves individuals with physical, cognitive, and emotional disabilities of all ages in Palm Beach County, offering a program similar to the local Sprout Riding Center where Foxcroft students, including Wilhelmina, volunteer regularly. Initiated through a Palm Beach International Academy connection, Wilhelmina’s work at Vinceremos over the past two and half years has included barn management, summer camp counseling, and facilitating lead rope lessons. The most rewarding part, she says, is working with children. She reflected on one program in particular where a group of young women who had recently immigrated to the United States participated in group therapy, observing a herd of horses to learn how stress impacts group dynamics, what the horses did to calm one another, and how they resolve conflict. “I find it really interesting and rewarding,” she reflected, “to watch the horses and kids teach each other about responsibility, respect, and compassion.” 

These unique experiences reinforce the importance of service, one of Foxcroft’s core values, even away from campus. Through her efforts at the Great Charity Challenge, JustWorld International, and Vinceremos, Wilhelmina is making a difference — what invaluable opportunities to do what she loves while putting some good out in the world!
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An all-girls boarding and day school in Northern Virginia, Foxcroft prepares young women in grades 9-12 for success in college and in life. Our outstanding academic program offers challenging courses, including Advanced Placement classes and an innovative STEM program. Our premiere equestrian program is nationally recognized, and our athletic teams have won conference and state championships. Experience the best in girls' boarding schools: visit Foxcroft.