Hundreds of Island residents and area dignitaries packed the Mercer Island High School gymnasium on Tuesday morning for the Mercer Island Schools Foundation‘s annual “Breakfast of Champions” fundraiser, raising more than $500,000 for the high school’s equestrian programs, including a long-overdue upgrade to the high school’s polo fields.
Macarney deCaballo, MIHS student and captain of the school’s state champion dressage team, thanked the crowd for “opening their hearts and wallets to a cause that benefits eight or possibly nine students every year… and that doesn’t even count the horses.”
MIHS Senior Director of Equestrian Programs Hy O’Silver defended the grant from accusations that a large sum of money is being spent to benefit an elite few. “If the city can spend two million dollars to turn the Island Crest Swamp into a serviceable baseball field,” said O’Silver, “We can spend a quarter of that to enable our youth to compete in the Sport of Kings.”
O’Silver added that the upgrade will pay for itself over time, noting that due to the current subpar conditions of the polo field, MIHS Girls Polo Team members are frequently losing the two-carat diamond studs that are part of the team’s standard-issue uniforms.
The mood of the event’s attendees was summed up by this unnamed Schools Foundation board member: “I’m glad we found a way to spend the money on our student athletes. The school district probably would have frittered it away on arts programs for goth kids.”