Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 14, 2020 – When Massachusetts native Kim Kolloff first visited the Winter Equestrian Festival [WEF] in Wellington, Florida over twelve years ago, she was impressed by the menagerie of community and charity events that the South Florida village had to offer residents and visitors. Despite the large number of fundraising events in the area, she soon realized that there was a lack of events that children could participate in and benefit from.
As both a horse lover and a dog lover, it didn’t take long for her to be introduced to Danny & Ron’s Rescue, founded by equestrians and seasonal Wellington residents Danny Robertshaw and Ron Danta. Robertshaw and Danta’s unique story and dog rescue quickly piqued Kolloff’s interest, and before long an idea for a fundraising event that was just as unique was formed.
“That year I met Danny and Ron, and they told me how all of the [rescue] dogs lived in their house, up to 70 [at a time],” Kolloff recalled. “They started it by saving 600 rescues from Hurricane Katrina. I knew at that point that was the charity I wanted for the kids to try to help – children and animals have an amazing connection with trust and making a difference.”
Stemming from Kolloff’s passion for helping the community’s youth and making an impact on dog rescue efforts, the Kids Lip Sync Battle fundraising event to benefit Danny & Ron’s Rescue was born.
“A lot of us are products of our past,” Kolloff said. “I was a child that grew up in a very abusive, alcoholic, dysfunctional family, and I kept everything a secret. Back in the old days, if there was abuse going on in the home, you never talked about it. I grew up as a child having nobody to lean on or talk to. Then I became a special education teacher, and I taught kids with emotional problems and backgrounds – I really wanted to make a difference. Instead of going the same direction, I wanted to change my life and other kids’ lives. Through teaching the emotionally abused children, I also got involved with animals for their support, trust and unconditional love. Both became my passion in life – helping animals and helping children.”
Kolloff’s efforts have not gone unnoticed in the community either. For the past twelve years since the inception of the event, it has drawn enthusiastic crowds from the community, kids and adults alike. Always a sell-out event, families from past years as well as newcomers attend the fundraiser to help make a positive impact on the rescue and the children who are so eager to help the dogs. Kolloff explained how amazing it has been to witness the natural connection between children and dogs, seeing the kids shine when given the opportunity to make a difference and save lives in their community. Because the kids know that the money they are helping raise goes directly to the dogs who need it, it is an especially strong correlation.
“It’s been an automatic connection, and kids just want to raise money to save another dog’s life,” Kolloff said. “It’s really so exciting – the kids know that every dollar will go to saving a dog, and I think that’s tangible for them and it makes a difference. And, they hold the dogs at the [Winter Equestrian Festival] booth. When they hold an abused, sad dog, they let the dog just crumble in their arms and you can see their faces empathizing. They feel the same that the dogs do, it’s so unbelievable.
“Besides saving animals, the kids have also gained so much confidence and self esteem,” Kolloff continued. “A few years in the past, kids would cry at the rehearsals and say ‘I can’t go on stage, I’m too nervous,’ and now they can’t wait to get up there!”
This year’s competition will operate in a new format, similar to the popular TV show “The Voice,” all part of making the experience fun for both the performing kids and the audience.
Danny & Ron’s Rescue is immensely grateful for the continued efforts of Kolloff and every other dedicated individual who works hard to make sure the Kids Lip Sync Battle goes off without a hitch. The 12th Annual Kids Lip Sync will take place on February 16 at 6 p.m. at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center’s Special Events pavilion, and is a sold-out event. If you would like to learn more about how you can be involved next year or donate, please visit their website here.