September 11, 2006 in City

Giddyap, grandeur, good cause

By The Spokesman-Review
Photos by Joe Barrentine photo

Eric Dix, center, and Rob Peterson, second from right, fight for position during the second chukker of polo Sunday at the Spokane Polo Grounds.
(Full-size photo)

Of all the people riding horses Sunday at the Spokane Polo Club, Dylan Corbin was the one least prepared for it.

Corbin, an 11-year-old from Valleyford who has leukemia, showed up at the fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House and Make-A-Wish Foundation unaware that he was going to have his own wish granted – the gift of a quarterhorse named Sly.

“He could have had anything in the world,” said Jeff Corbin, Dylan’s father. “He wanted a horse.”

The presentation came during the second Cobra Roofing Polo Classic. Hundreds of people attended the event that included a polo match, art walk and auction – and a somewhat rarefied air. Women wore flowery hats and air-kissed hello. Men wore suit coats and held champagne flutes. Lunch under the white tents was salmon, and magnums of Veuve Clicquot were up for silent auction.

During a break in the match, members of the crowd walked the field and stamped divots back in place while waiters circled.

“This is all new,” said Cindy Vanos, a Spokane resident whose first brush with polo was at last year’s fundraiser. “This is Spokane,” she said incredulously.

But John Robideaux, who produced the event, noted that Spokane has a polo tradition dating back 75 years, with regular play at the polo club. The event raised more than $100,000 for the two charities last year, and at $150 per ticket sales went up from 800 to 1,200 this year.

“We wanted to do something different,” said Robideaux, whose wife, Toni, died of cancer in 2004. “We didn’t want to have another golf tournament or fun run.”

A big part of the fun for women in attendance was the hats, ranging from simple straw hats to colorful silk-and-flower affairs. Diane and Ron Siverson, of Coeur d’Alene, were selling their handmade hats, topped with colorful fabrics, faux flowers and flouncy feathers. Diane wore one of her own creations, while Ron stood by in tails and a top hat.

The Siversons’ company, Lady Diane Hats, started on eBay but has taken off in the last year or so. Two of their hats were worn by a band that performed at the recent MTV Video Music Awards – Panic! at the Disco – and the couple attended this year’s Kentucky Derby in full regalia.

As popular as his wife’s hats are, Ron also expects his top hat to catch on – at least in certain circles.

“When we were at the Kentucky Derby, I had guys stopping me and saying, ‘Well done,’ ” he said. “I expect to see top hats at the derby this year.”

Dylan and his family tended more toward hats of the cowboy variety. The Valleyford boy turned 11 about a month ago, and is going through his second bout of chemotherapy for leukemia after a relapse in January.

Neighbors and businesses pitched in recently to build the family a barn. Dylan had asked for a horse through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, but didn’t know he was getting it Sunday. When it was announced and the horse – donated by Suzy Dix, a member of the polo club – was led up to Dylan before the crowd, the boy shyly petted the horse on the nose.

He put on his helmet and was helped aboard, and he smiled while the crowd cheered and he was led off the polo field. He sat on the horse while his mother, Kim, held the reins, waiting for the family’s horse trailer. His new saddle blanket bore his name.

“Ready to get off?” Kim asked.

“I don’t know,” he said – then stayed right where he was.

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