Sweethearts' Ball on Feb. 19 is to benefit the Team Y Ride program

SPRINGFIELD — The Polo Club at Shallowbrook Equestrian Center of Somers, Conn., in partnership with the YMCA of Greater Springfield is hosting the first annual Sweethearts Ball to benefit Team Y Ride on Feb. 19.

The event will take place at Chez Josef in Agawam at 6:30 p.m. and will include dinner, dancing, silent and live auction and highlights from the program's first year.

The event is open to the public and tickets are $45 per person. Creative black tie required. Must be 16 years old to attend. Tickets can be purchased by calling Julie Costello, executive director of the Greater Springfield YMCA, at 739-6951.

The YMCA of Greater Springfield and Shallowbrook Equestrian Center began the Team Y Ride program in November 2009. The Team Y Ride program incorporates the YMCA's core values of caring, honesty, respect, and responsibility into the equine experience. The purpose of the Y Team Ride program, created by Costello, is to provide underserved youth and teens with the opportunity to develop personal growth of spirit, mind and body through exposure to the structure of horseback riding and equine care.

"I know what horses did for me and how my life changed. I have always felt it was not fair that every horse-crazy kid that wanted to be around a horse was not able to do so. I wanted to give an opportunity for underserved children to be able to receive all of the benefits that horses give us," said Costello, a competitive hunt seat rider.

The Sweetheart's Ball will kick off and celebrate the second year of the Polo Club and raise funds for the program, which relies on a combination of private donations and grant funding.

"We are so excited to be partnering with the YMCA of Greater Springfield to support such an inspiring program. In just this first year our Team Y Ride students have accomplished impressive hunt seat and polo riding skills and our hope is that monies raised at this event will allow for more wonderful horse experiences," Lucy Manos, Team Y Ride instructor and Sweethearts Ball chairperson, said.

If you are unable to attend the Sweethearts Ball but would like to make a tax-deductible monetary or auction prize donation, please contact Costello at 739-6951.

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