Celebrating Philanthropic Spirit Within The Ocala Equestrian Community
This is a story of like minded people coming together through their passion for horses, their choice of lifestyle and the ultimate decision to raise children and foster healthy youth development in the family friendly community of Ocala, Florida.
Christian and Kim Oliver, originally from Tampa, had relocated to Park City Utah due to the outdoor lifestyle the area offered them. Christian had been working in IT for Lucent Technologies in Tampa, when he decided to leave corporate America in order to branch out and build his own company. Christian, who excelled at corporate operations, partnered with Scott Vanover, a friend and brilliant entrepreneur, to form BlueSky Mast, a company that provides products for military communications to the Department of Defense. Together these two men formed a very successful organization, but Scott was always driven by the desire to be involved in a start up business. This sense of wanderlust was the beginning of the creation of Edge Barcelona Brewing.
With Christian firmly entrenched in running the operations of BlueSky Mast, Scott began to work on their next business venture in the craft beer market. Knowing that the American market was saturated with micro brew products, Scott looked to target an area in the world where there would be a niche. One such location not only offered that opportunity for the beer market, but was way behind the beer movement in Europe. There was a big opportunity to grab a foothold in the market and the city appealed to Scott. It served up the lifestyle of an eclectic, artsy ocean side city, rich in European history. This is how Edge Brewing Barcelona was born, and soon their American craft beer would become the 2014 top new brewer in the world!
As Scott became fully dedicated to managing Edge Brewing Barcelona in Spain, Christian and Kim Oliver were starting to contemplate their next move. While living in Park City, the Oliver’s adopted their daughter Ting, who at the age of 7 only spoke Chinese. Ting gravitated strongly towards horses and they found that the equine link formed a bridge in their ability to communicate with one another. With Scott moving to Spain to run Edge Brewing Barcelona, the Olivers needed to move back to Florida to manage the operations of the BlueSky Mast company in Odessa, Florida. Ting’s riding had become an integral part of their lifestyle and a priority when choosing their next home. After contemplating the equestrian communities within reach of their corporate headquarters, Ocala became the choice of the Oliver’s as the area appealed to a more grounded family lifestyle. The Olivers wasted no time and called Ocala Horse Properties to help them find their next home.
Ting, who is now 14, trains with Kim Burnett at Kimberden Farm in Ocala. As the family businesses continued to thrive and Ting’s equestrian pursuits became more active, the Oliver’s started to look for ways to give back to their community. This was when, through a series of coincidental connections, the Oliver family became involved in Horses N Heroes.
A Philanthropic Community
Horses N Heroes is a 501C based in Ocala and founded by Mindy Nolan-Morrow, a lifelong equestrian who originally grew up showing on the A circuit in the show hunters on the east coast under the tutelage of Ralph Caristo and Harry deLeyer. Mindy is forthright in remarking that she grew up in a family that could afford the equestrian lifestyle, but she always worked hard for it and was a student of the sport. She also had friends who came from affluent backgrounds, and when they were not focused on riding, these girls were finding trouble. Mindy knew that she wanted to take her love for horses and help girls forge their way in the world.
Horses n Heroes is a non-profit organization that helps girls learn life skills and tools through their interaction with and care of horses. Founded in 1994, the goal of Horses N Heroes has been to give girls who come from challenging socio-economic backgrounds the opportunity to ride and to learn respect and responsibility through this equine experience.
“For Mindy, who grew up on Long Island showing and riding, horses were an important part of her formative years. As an adult she has devoted herself to this wonderful mentoring program, partnering children and horses to foster self esteem, responsibility, team work, kind-heartedness, commitment and more.”
Unfortunately due to the recent economic downturn, Horses N Heroes was struggling and faced the real threat of having to close their doors. This is when a coincidental meeting in Las Vegas Nevada would result in Mindy finding her philanthropic angel in Ocala.
A Chance Meeting
Last winter, The Olivers were having lunch in Las Vegas while attending the World Cup, and happened to sit near a woman who over heard their conversation around horses. They struck up a conversation with Mary McKenzie, a Wellington resident who has donated horses to the Horses n Heroes program in Ocala. After further conversation they learned that Mary also had horses in Ocala and sat on the board at Horses N Heroes. Learning of Mindy’s program in their home town struck a chord with Kim and Christian, and soon upon returning to Ocala they went to meet Mindy.
The Birth of Edge Equestrian
Kim and Christian Oliver had been working on the concept of utilizing their beer brand to leverage help within the local community. Edge Equestrian had become the philanthropic vision of Edge Brewing Barcelona, with the goal of giving back to the community and the horses that have added such passion to their life. The idea was then set into action for an initial import of their product, which will focus on 2 brands of equestrian beer designated to benefit many area residents and charities.
They chose two of their brews to be rebranded in the USA and they held a local competition to enlist the talent of local artists to create the labels on their new equestrian brews. The winners of the local art competition were graphic designer Andy Stracuzzi and 15 year old student, talented artist and equestrian, Sara Boon. Their beautiful artwork now adorns the labels of the imported beers called Unbridled Passion (formerly Appasionato) and Caballo Loco (formerly Padrino Porter), which literally means horse crazy!
And in another fated connection within the local horse community, Sara Boon, who’s artwork has become one of the Edge beer labels, happens to ride at Kimberden Farm with Ting. That particular farm has also donated horses over the years to Horses N Heroes. Mindy loves that a young girl designed the logo for the label that will directly benefit other young ladies in the community.
According to Kim Oliver, “The beer is set to arrive in the US this Friday, November 6th in Miami and will make its way up to Ocala through NCL Import Services, LLC. The first location committed to having the beer on tap is Golden Ocala Golf and Equestrian Club in NW Ocala. Harold Dean, Food and Beverage Director, has been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the beer to offer to the Golden Ocala Membership. In addition, Tri-Eagle Sales is the local distributor in the Ocala area and they are thrilled to have the beer as part of their portfolio and are developing plans to promote the beer locally. They expect that many more retailers will make the beer available to beer consumers in our community. All involved feel that the equestrian theme and community stewardship will appeal greatly to Ocala.”
The beer has already been well received by South Florida beer retailers, whose South American and Latino customer base embrace the idea of a luxury European brand from Spain. The second phase will be to import approximately 10 beers from their product line which will be marketed as a luxury, best in world, European brand. Edge Barcelona
Brewery’s “Give Back Taps”, which are the 2 beers chosen whose profits will be donated, are part of a line-up of about 10 beers that will be available in the US.
A Charitable Accomplishment
On an annual or bi-annual basis, Edge Equestrian would like to bring an equine charity forward that would benefit from a portion of the proceeds from their product sales. Horses-n-Heroes was in financial hardship when this concept took flight, and through the generous donations of Edge Equestrian, that local charity is able to keep their doors open for the immediate future.
During a conversation with Mindy Nolan-Morrow of Horses N Heroes she has expressed her gratitude for meeting with the Oliver’s and how their generosity has given her non-profit a fighting chance.
“They held a cocktail party at The Brick City Center For The Arts in downtown Ocala where they announced the winners of the label artists. They introduced us as beneficiaries to the program and donated $25,000 to basically keep our doors open!”
“I want to thank Edge Brewing Barcelona for their generosity, compassion & dedication to this program and it’s survival. The opportunity they are giving us will enable the girls who benefit from our program to carry us into the future.”
It is a wonderful thing that so many people in the Ocala area have a united goal to help make a difference in lives of local under-privileged kids. Mindy is quick to acknowledge the large budgets needed to ride horses, and in an area where there is an abundance of horse farms, “there are so many pockets of poverty with children in this area who couldn’t otherwise afford to be involved with horses.”
Kim and Christian Oliver are thrilled to be involved, “We are currently cutting our teeth on this Horses N Heroes to see how effective we can be as Edge Equestrian in helping charities and hoping that in the process people will come forward to be Mindy’s donors in coming years. The main reason we are bringing our Edge Barcelona beer to the US is to use it within the equestrian market to bring awareness to charitable organizations. If we can do something good for the equine charities through Edge Equestrian, then it’s worth the effort of importing our product back into the America market.”
Kim also pointed out another tidbit about our hometown of Ocala, “I saw an article about the top 10 areas in Florida for philanthropy based on donations per capita. Ocala was 7th on the list showing that the entire community is very charitable. Personally, we have found this to be true – people and companies are beginning to step forward to help
Horses N Heroes once they know about them. The challenge is getting the word out. We hope that the exposure and press Horses N Heroes gets during the year they are associated with the roll out of our Equestrian line of beers will put them on the forefront of everyone’s minds so they become well-funded far into the future!”
2015/2016 Events & Benefits
Upcoming events which will benefit Horses N Heroes:
Fall marks the beginning of the busy season in Ocala and there will be parties and events to attend to get a taste of Edge Equestrians hops and to feel good that a portion of the proceeds from your libation will be going back to a worthy cause!
EQUUS International Film Festival – NYC
November 20th – 21st
Premier of the documentary, Reflections
Thank you THATSHOWITSDONE Productions for creating this short documentary film to tell the story of the amazing young women and horses at Horses N Heroes! See you at our world premiere in NYC at the Equus Film Festival!
December 12th-13th and 19th-20th
Our fabulous area show is supporting the girls from Horses N Heroes by sponsoring their entry fees at two of their local shows over two consecutive weekends.
Edge Brewing Barcelona Beer Launch Party
December Date TBD
A “Tap Takeover” at Infinite Aleworks in downtown Ocala where guests can taste the full line of beers available in the US, including the new Equestrian Line.
LPGA Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club
February 1st – 6th
Raise a growler of your favorite Edge Equestrian beer while watching the top lady golfers in the world!
FEI Show Jumping Nations Cup – HITS Ocala
Nations Cup Week
February 15th – 21st
NATIONS CUP WEEK
Nations Cup Welcome Party hosted by OCALA HORSE PROPERTIES, ADENA COUNTRY CLUB and EDGE BREWING
Welcome the Nation’s best riders and give back to a deserving Marion County charity- Horses N Heroes at Adena Golf and Country Club
Thriving in the ‘The Horse Capital of the World’
Ocala Horse Properties salutes the team at Edge Equestrian and Horses N Heroes for their efforts in building a family based community, which is thriving in the ‘The Horse Capital of the World’.
During the week of the Nations Cup in February, Ocala Horse Properties will be hosting a party in conjunction with Edge Equestrian to benefit Horses N Heroes.
The team at Ocala Horse Properties is passionate about their town and this cause. “We want to do something that will showcase the Ocala-lifestyle and community that we enjoy so much during one of Ocala’s premiere international events, The Nations Cup.”
But the most important element is in the spirit of giving back. “We are hosting an event to support an Ocala based charity that we can really get behind. We couldn’t believe that an organization like Horses N Heroes existed in our own backyard that we knew nothing about it! We want to change that by helping to bring awareness to this local Ocala charity.”