On March 1, the Community Foundation for Ocala/Marion County held the second annual Inspire Gala to honor community members for outstanding efforts to create change and leave a lasting impact. Several award winners had connections to the equine industry including Philanthropists of the Year Brandon and Diannah Perry and Frank Hennessey whose presented his namesake Legacy Award to Frank DeLuca, the owner of DeLuca Toyota.

The Perry family distributed millions in 2023 on behalf of Brandon’s late mother, Cathy Perry who was a devoted advocate for animals.

The Perrys themselves are Thoroughbred breeders. More than $5 million through the Cathy D. Perry Trust was donated to charities including Florida Thoroughbred Charities for the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation’s Second Chance Farm at Lowell Correctional Institution, Final Furlong, Horse Farms Forever, Hospice of Marion County, Humane Society of Marion County, Interfaith Emergency Services, Junior League of Ocala, Kimberly’s Center for Child Protection, Marion Therapeutic Riding Association, Royal Dames for Cancer Research, Inc., Sheltering Hands, and Voices for Change Animal League (VOCAL) and nationally to the Duke University Brain Tumor Cancer Center, Thoroughbred Charities of America and the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Foundation, among others.

Hennessey is a breeder of world-class Arabian horses. He and his wife, Carol, fell in love with Arabians and built their ‘heaven for horses’ farm in Ocala in 2007. Since moving to Ocala, Hennessey has remained active in philanthropy including establishing and serving as the chairman of board of the Community Foundation. He was the founding chairman of First Step Fund and Fund One, a venture firm for entrepreneurs. Hennessey was Ocala Magazine’s Person of the Year in 2011. He is also a gold sponsor of the Arabian Horse Museum at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.

DeLuca has given more than $14 million to the community through the years including the Frank DeLuca YMCA Family Center and served on various nonprofit boards. The Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ & Owners’ Association partners with him annually for their holiday open house toy drive for the Boys and Girls Club.

Return to the March 4 issue of Wire to Wire