By Megan Sayles
AFRO Business Writer
The seventh annual Celebrity Charity PoloXJazz returns to the Congressional Polo Club in Poolesville, Md. on Sep. 23. This year’s event will be hosted by Judge Greg Mathis, who’s known for his Emmy-winning courtroom reality show. It will benefit the Black Mental Health Alliance (BMHA) and Latinas Leading Tomorrow (LLT).
The polo match, which commences at 3 p.m., will feature an all-Black team. The players include Kevin Scott, Eric Brown, Dale Johnson, Miguel Wilson and Chancey Wilson. Singer Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins, known for being one-third of hip-hop girl group TLC, will also attend the event as a celebrity guest.
“From the time that people drive through the gate they’re going to see grandness. We’ll have the Grand Lux Auto Row where guests that own luxury vehicles, like Rolls-Royces, Lamborghinis and Aston Martins, can line up their beautiful vehicles and showcase them,” said Susan Smallwood, event organizer. “We’ve brought in an all-Black polo playing team for the second year in a row. Guests will just have a grand time networking and enjoying the beautiful scenery.”
Smallwood, who is also the first Black woman to own a caviar brand, runs Celebrity Charity PoloXJazz under her company, Grandiosity Events. She started the business in 2015 to enrich the lives of all cultures, elevate brand experiences and normalize luxury.
While serving time in federal prison, Smallwood was often called “grandiose” by the other incarcerated women. Rather than be offended by the characterization, she was inspired to put a positive spin on it in her business name and encourage people to live their lives grandly.
Since the inception of Celebrity Charity PoloXJazz, attendance has grown from 200 guests to more than 1,000. Although this is the second time that the event will benefit the BMHA, Smallwood said she chose to add the LLT this year to bring Black and Latinx cultures together.
“I want to grow, expand and enrich the lives of all cultures, not just the Black community but other communities of Black and Brown color as well,” said Smallwood. “I want people to understand that we really have all of the same issues and we should help each other with these issues regardless of our ethnicity.”
BMHA’s Executive Director, Andrea Brown, said the event allows her team to highlight the importance of Black mental wellness.
“The fact that we are one of the beneficiaries is critical to what we do because it is an unofficial public education campaign where we get to raise awareness not just about our work, but about our people,” said Brown.
BMHA will celebrate 40 years of supporting mental health education and services in the Black community in December.
“This event couldn’t come at a better time for the Black Mental Health Alliance. We are still here 40 years later, and the needs are still here,” said Brown. “I’m super excited about our road to 40, and the PoloXJazz is a part of that. We get to uplift the importance of Black mental health and wellness for our communities not just in Baltimore, but across the country.”
Megan Sayles is a Report for America Corps member.