Grand Champions Cares Bahamas Relief Fund Raiser Under Way

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WELLINGTON, Fl.—September 10, 2019----The devastation Hurricane Dorian left behind in the Abaco Islands and Grand Bahamas Island left a lasting impression on Grant Ganzi.

The Lynn University junior and polo player recently started the Grand Champions Cares Bahamas Relief Fund Raiser and is reaching out to one of sports' most generous, the polo community, not only locally but worldwide.

The goal is $50,000 that will be used for basic essentials including water, food, medical supplies, clothing, diapers and pet food.

"This hits close to home," Ganzi said. "It easily could have been us. Everything has been destroyed over there. I hope the polo community will step up and give something. Whatever they want to contribute. Anything will help."

The death toll has risen to 44 as of Monday night. At least 70,000 have been left homeless. Hundreds remain missing or buried under rubble. The situation has become a "humanitarian crisis."

"I don't think the world knows how many people died," said Valesha Johnson to Tonya Alanez of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. "This is just like 9/11 for us. We are scarred."

The 23-year-old ended up leaving Abaco and catching an evacuation flight to Nassau.

The "destructive" Dorian is "unprecedented and extensive," Bahamas Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said. "Homes and businesses are completely destroyed and the country is inundated with an extraordinary amount of flooding."

One week out and the recovery process continues. The U.S. Coast Guard alone has rescued 290 people in the northern Bahamas. Hospitals are overwhelmed and still are not able to reach some of the hardest hit areas.

"I have been to the Bahamas for the last five years, at least once a year," Ganzi said. "Seeing the destruction in photos opens your eyes. I remember the destruction Irma and Matthew did to the British West Indies and Virgin Islands.

"Knowing that could happen to us in Florida should be a big motivator for everyone. I know the tragedies and devastation hurricanes can cause. It's a terrible thing that you don't want to see happen any place in the world.

"I would like to see the polo community jump in and help. There are some that can't afford a lot and others that can afford more. Whatever it is, will be great."

For those interested in contributing, go to care.gcpolo.com

Grand Champions Polo Club is preparing for its fall season highlighted by the Legends of Polo and Carlos Gracida Memorial, International Cup featuring Team USA and France, six medium goal tournaments and four high goal tournaments.

Grand Champions fall, winter and spring tournaments attract a large international field of players from all corners of the world including India, Mexico, New Zealand, Chile, Costa Rica, Argentina, Canada, Ecuador, Brazil, Switzerland, France, Germany, Uruguay, Azerbaijan, Australia, South Africa, Nigeria, Venezuela and England.

Grand Champions and Santa Rita Polo Farm is the largest and most unique polo facility in Wellington with 120 stalls in five self-contained barns, exercise track, five climate-controlled tack rooms, vet room, staff quarters, guest house and three polo fields with state-of-the-art underground irrigation including one field for stick-and-ball with plans to build more polo fields in the future.

Grand Champions Polo Club and Santa Rita Polo Farm caters to men, women and youth polo players at all levels and ages. Its' expert staff can customize a complete playing experience including horses, pros and certified umpires in addition to lessons and practice sessions as part of its' Polo On Demand program, created by Grand Champions President Melissa Ganzi when the club first opened in 2007.

The Polo School, a stand-alone USPA-sanctioned polo club, is dedicated to teaching polo to all ages, particularly grass roots youth. Its mission is to provide individuals opportunities in polo at every economic and ability level. Scholarships are available. The Polo School operates in Wellington January through May and September through November. Headed by Director of Operations Juan Bollini, The Polo School has nurtured several men and women polo players now playing in the pro and amateur ranks since its inception.