SF: Behind The Scenes At Giant Steps Charity Classic Six Gala

Colin Cowie and Marissa Mayer
Colin Cowie and Marissa Mayer

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

The late afternoon sun may have illuminated the hills surrounding the Sonoma Horse Park in Petaluma with a golden glow on August 1, but the sixth annual Giant Steps Charity Classic Six Bar and Gala attracted stars from the Bay Area equestrian world, Silicon Valley, wine country, celebrity events and even pop music.

Eve Jobs, Hunter and Stacey Siebel, Marissa Mayer and Zachary Bogue, David Shimmon, Helen McEvoy, Gwen, Paris and Ella McCaw, Sloan and Roger Barnett, Ransome and Laura Rombauer, Tish and Noah Cyrus (mother and sister of Miley Cyrus), Tom Silverman, founder of Tommy Boy Records and his stunning wife, Donna D’Cruz, who deejayed the event, were among the 500 guests who gathered for cocktail hour, a sit-down dinner, equestrian presentations, children’s vocal performances and an auction to raise money for Giant Steps, a therapeutic equestrian center serving those with disabilities, at risk children and veterans.

New York City-based celebrity event planner Colin Cowie acted as the gala’s presenting sponsor. Ashley Herman, whose family owns the park, presided over the evening.

The gala was one of the title events of the Giant Steps Charity Classic, a six-day fundraiser, which showcased top regional, national and international equestrians. It was the only West Coast equestrian charity event this year sponsored by Hermès, which awarded hand-crafted Hermès blankets to the featured winners. The full six-day run earned more than $1 million, which will provide Giant Steps’ entire operating budget for the year.

Cowie outfitted the cocktail deck, dining area and the jumping fences in his corporate color scheme—a lively and summery mix of lime green and white– and a motif of stripes. “I can never resist a good stripe ever,” quipped the native South African and the author of 10 books. He brought in Double Cross Vodka for the custom cocktail drinks that welcomed guests as they walked in and he curated the menu that included English pea soup, Moroccan lamb and quinoa cake, prepared by Park Avenue Catering in Sonoma. Rombauer Vineyards offered up the Chardonnay and nearby Keller Estate the Pinot Noir.

One of the most unique elements of the evening was the music. The internationally-renowned D’Cruz, in her signature Swarovski crystal -studded headphones, worked the recorded music while a violinist and saxophone player performed live. “The live performers add another level of spontaneity,” said D’Cruz.

For Sloan Barnett, who was behind the Charity’s final $40,000 Shaklee Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon, the operating term for the event was “heartfelt.” She says, “What this organization does for at risk children and veterans is incredible.”

Photography by Drew Altizer Photography