By Gary Anderson

September 3 - The Jonathan Wentz Memorial Fund aims to carry on the work of the late ParalympianThe United States Para-Equestrian Association (USPEA) has announced the launch of the Jonathan Wentz Memorial Scholarship Fund and Trophy in honour of the young Paralympian who passed away in September of last year.

The scholarship fund will help to advance high performance Para-dressage in the US and provide support and encouragement for young riders whose ambition is to compete on the international stage.

The scheme is continuing on the work started by Wentz, who from the age of 16 had set out a plan and budget to realise his dream of competing at a Paralympic Games.

He also had a wider goal of growing Para-dressage in the US and encouraging young disabled athletes to take up the sport he loved, through his work on United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) committees, giving riding demonstrations, public speaking and mentoring new riders.

Wentz achieved his ultimate dream of competing at a Paralympics, at London 2012, where he narrowly missed out on finishing in a podium position in the Grade 1b individual freestyle event on his trustee companion Richter Scale.

Tragically, the 21-year-old from Texas died on September 30 last year, just weeks after his Paralympic exploits, due to a rare heart condition.

The main purpose of the fund is to provide financial support to Para-dressage high performance young riders aged between 16 to 25-years-old who are competing in international Para-dressage competitions and the Young Riders Para Championships.

Funding of up to $1,000 (£643/€759) per competition will be awarded to help cover expenditure, entry fees, stabling and/or shipping costs.

Meanwhile, the Jonathan Wentz Memorial Trophy was established to honour the young rider's achievements in his sport and inspire Para-Equestrians in dressage, driving, reining, vaulting or jumping.

The trophy recipient will be a Para-equestrian athlete who has competed and excelled in multiple international competitions and received scores that contributed to the individual and/or US team ranking on the International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI) ranking list during the competition year.

Jonathan Wentz and his companion Richter Scale just missed out on a medal at London 2012Jonathan Wentz and his companion Richter Scale just missed out on a medal at London 2012

In addition, the recipient will be seen as a role model for the sport, in the same way Wentz was, and the trophy will be awarded each year at the USEF Annual Convention.

"There could not be a better way to commemorate Jonathan than to establish a scholarship fund in his name," said Jonathan's mother, Tina Wentz.

"His desire was to have a Para-equestrian young rider programme that worked to grow and improve the current US programme.

"Creating a perpetual trophy gives Para-equestrian athlete's a high goal to aspire to and will serve to honour, as well as keep Para-equestrian sport in the public eye.

"Our goal in establishing the trophy and the scholarship is to continue Jonathan's legacy of hard-work, dedication and love for his sport.

"It will honour his Paralympic and international athletic achievements to 'ride on' and hopefully inspire others toward achieving their goals of being world class Para-equestrian athletes.

"We are so proud of the athlete, ambassador, young man he was and that he achieved his dream of being a Paralympian."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Information and top image courtesy of Lindsay Y McCall

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