April 9, 2020
With the message “pay it forward” at its heart, the Give Back to Go Scholarship, with help from additional donors, once again awarded refunds of the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover application fee in whole or in part to four deserving applicants. Funded by the Daignault Family Foundation and spearheaded by past Makeover competitor and volunteer Emily Daignault-Salvaggio, the scholarship asked applicants to make a donation to an equine-related charity of their choice as part of the application process.
Four finalists were selected from the pool of applicants, who submitted essays in addition to making donations, by a committee of volunteer judges. The finalists were assessed by a panel of three celebrity judges including Victoria Keith, manager of Fox Hill Farm and the executive director of the National Thoroughbred Welfare Organization; Gary Stevens, champion jockey and national Racing Hall of Fame inductee; and McLain Ward, champion international show jumper and Olympic gold medalist.
Selected unanimously by all three judges, Harleigh Humphries was named the overall winner, with her Makeover application fee refunded by the Daignault Family Foundation. Humphries is a professional from Middleburg, Virginia and develops horses for the sport of polo, and is embarking on a certification in EAGALA to further a second passion for equine-assisted psychotherapy. Humphries intends to create a no-cost program for veterans struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Cynthia Morgan-D’Atrio earned second place and a refund of her application fee donated by John Salvaggio. A dressage-based professional from Abita Springs, Louisiana, Morgan-D’Atrio is also the founder of Thoroughbred Retirement Network of Louisiana, a 501(c)3 non-profit with Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance accreditation devoted to rehoming off-track Thoroughbreds.
Daisy Scherer, a junior rider hailing from Ballston Spa, New York, was named third place by the judges and was awarded $150 towards her application fee from a donation by Ali Dacher, last year’s Give Back to Go Scholarship winner. In her essay, Scherer thanked her mother for working hard to afford for her to enjoy the retraining process and the journey to the Thoroughbred Makeover.
Another junior trainer, Vincent Mueller, was named fourth place by the judges and was awarded $150 towards his application fee from a donation by Lauren Nethery. Mueller impressed the judges with his self-motivation to start his own business at the age of 12 to be able to afford new show clothes.
In a special side donation by Molly Mindy’s Mindy Law, LLC, the Triumph Over Adversity Scholarship for rescued horses was awarded to Mary Elena Moran, who pulled her prospect from a kill pen and is preparing for the 2020 Thoroughbred Makeover.
“I am astounded and humbled by the amazing turnout for the second year of this scholarship. Without a doubt we can see that within the horse world there are many capable and charitable people who believe in giving back to others and who have modeled their lives on being not just great horsemen, but stellar human beings as well,” stated Daignault-Salvaggio. “In these highly uncertain times I am more than thrilled to be able to help give back to these very worthy individuals. I have no doubt that our scholarship winnings will be of worthwhile assistance as they make their way onwards to the Thoroughbred Makeover.”
“I enjoyed being a judge for this scholarship as I felt I got to know the applicants. Congratulations to the winners and I’ll be cheering them all on at this fall’s Thoroughbred Makeover!” Victoria Keith
“I personally understand the dedication, determination and resources necessary to take a horse from an unsure future to a successful post-track career. I’m proud to support Mary Elena Moran and Saintly Ballad on their journey to a second career.” Molly Mindy
“It was extremely difficult to pick out one winner of the finalists as they were all worthy of winning the scholarship award. They are so generous with their free time and giving it to the care of these horses. I am grateful for that.” Gary Stevens
“I was very honored to be asked the judge the essays. It’s always a pleasure to read about other horse lovers’ passion and the efforts they make to turn that passion into real world results.” McLain Ward