By Lauren R. Giannini
John Walsh is best known for hosting the super-popular crime show, America’s Most Wanted, which brought 39 criminals to justice after it moved from Fox to Lifetime in December 2011 – helping to round up more than 1,100 felons since its debut in 1988. A new project has the dedicated crime fighter working on a pilot for a potential series about really old unsolved cases called “John Walsh Investigates.”
John works closely with the FBI and US Marshalls in the course of a case: a matter of win-win for everyone on the side of justice – not so good for the criminals. “The pilot involves shooting in three different places around the country on tough, really cold cases – we’re still working hard, trying to catch these guys,” said John, who has a personal stake in serving justice.
In 1981 John and Revé’s son Adam, six, was abducted and murdered. In the tragic aftermath, galvanized by grief, they turned to activism. Their efforts resulted in the creation of the non-profit National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in 1984 after then President Reagan signed the Missing Children’s Assistance Act. Honoring Adam’s memory fired their zeal to fight crime via America’s Most Wanted, to further victim advocacy, and to get laws passed to protect children from predators and sex offenders.
Over the years horses became an integral part of the Walsh family’s leisure activities, and they often serve far greater purposes than mere pleasure and sport. “My wife Revé is a first class rider and a world class foxhunter,” said John. “She’s a terrific supporter of foxhunting. She brought Noel Ryan from Virginia where he was huntsman to Palm Beach Hounds and he has taken that hunt way uptown. Our son Hayden, 18, is a pretty darn good polo player. Cornell University is trying to recruit him. He’s looking at University of Virginia and Stanford where they have good outdoor polo programs. It’s a real joy to play polo with your son.”
John has a real passion for polo: it’s fun and exciting, but he can also utilize his celebrity status to help raise funds for various charitable causes. “I’m playing polo all the time – Gulfstream, Vero Beach, Palm Beach – and a number of the games are charity matches,” admitted John when he spoke to Sidelines in February. “I believe in giving back.”
On February 15 John emceed the 24th annual National Polo Museum & Hall of Fame’s Awards Gala in Wellington, Florida which honored Tim Gannon, the co-founder of Outback Steakhouse and a positive presence in the polo world, with a special award. “I’ve hosted the awards gala a number of times – the Polo Museum & Hall of Fame is a non-profit run by a great group of people,” said John. “Tim Gannon has sponsored or given away millions of dollars to charity. What’s even nicer is that Tim’s son Chris is following in his dad’s footsteps. He organizes the Charity Polo Classic to raise funds for three Tampa charities Tim has been involved with, and I’ll be playing in it again this year.”
When John recalled last year’s Windsor Charity Polo Cup that he co-chairs at Vero Beach, he started dropping names: “We had Memo Gracida, Hall of Fame 10-goaler, Mike Azzaro, another great 10-goaler – he was just inducted into the Hall of Fame, Lucas Monteverde – 9-goaler and always in the Argentine Open, Salvatore Ferragamo, Nick Manifold, Tommy Biddle, Julian Daniels. I scored three goals. We had a phenomenal 20-goal game for three charities.”
In June, John will again lend his celebrity by playing in the Van Metre Polo Cup at Great Meadow, The Plains, Virginia, to raise funds for Capital Caring. “They broke ground for the Van Metre hospice which ought to open this summer,” said John. “Tim and I have played in many benefits together for charity – he really sets the bar high for other players and padrones. Tim is always there. He never says no. He brings the food.”
At the Van Metre Polo Cup John and Tim will be joined by Nacho Figueras, the face of Black Watch and Ralph Lauren Polo, and Salvatore Ferragamo, president of Il Borrio (vineyard and luxury hotel in Italy) and scion of the Ferragamo fashion empire that started with shoes and expanded into clothing.
“It’s great to be at Great Meadow on a lovely day for the Van Metre Cup,” John said. “I’ve played in lots of charity games with Nacho – he’s such a gracious guy – last year he flew in from Singapore. Salvatore came over from Italy, Tim came from New York – we gather from all over to play for a great organization, Capital Caring. Polo is a good way to create awareness about charities. I believe you have to give back.”