Category Archives: Community/Charity

Emergency Giving Guide to Highlight Non-Profits on the Frontlines of COVID-19

Wellington, FL – April 6, 2020 – To join the fight against Coronavirus, COVID-19, and support the local community, the Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments® (GCC), a Wellington-based show jumping competition that blends equestrian sports and philanthropy, has created a Palm Beach County Emergency Giving Guide featuring 83 local organizations that are currently assisting the most vulnerable populations.

The evolution of the Coronavirus, COVID-19, globally, nationally, and locally has affected each of us in ways we couldn’t have previously imagined.

As mentioned by West Palm Beach Mayor Keith A. James: “The economic effects of COVID-19 are catastrophic. Therefore, we must do what we can to support our citizens, including our most vulnerable.”

Recognizing that these unprecedented times call for an unprecedented approach to community support, the GCC realized it is crucial to connect donors and supporters with non-profit organizations who are providing critical support during the COVID-19 epidemic.

From child welfare, emergency educational support, homelessness support, medical support and more, donors and supporters can easily view what organizations are doing, the challenges they are facing and see what their immediate needs are.

“Our hope is for individuals to utilize this tool to better understand emerging need and see how they can create the biggest impact in their communities,” commented event Co-founder Paige Bellissimo. “Many of us want to help and are overwhelmed as to where to start; this guide is a local roadmap.”

Having worked with over 255 Palm Beach County non-profit organizations, distributing $14.8 million locally over the last 11 years, the GCC has seen how charities create lasting change and impact.

“We were in a unique position,” adds Executive Director Anne Caroline Valtin. “In partnership with Bank of America, we perform rigorous due diligence on organizations that apply to participate in our annual event. Through this process, we strive to identify organizations that will create the most influential impact locally.”

In order to get this Emergency Giving Guide out in a timely fashion, all but a few entries who are marked with an asterisk as well as an accompanying note have been reviewed through the GCC’s earlier efforts, in association with the event’s 2020 edition, held on Saturday, February 1, 2020, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. This is done to promote transparency, but in no way should it be a seen as a red flag; due diligence is encouraged on behalf of potential donors.

In an effort to make this Emergency Giving Guide as user friendly and functional as possible, donors and supporters have two distinct ways to search for non-profits organizations:

Option 1: The Alphabetical Index by Organizations. If you are looking for a particular organization, this is a great avenue to quickly locate them in this Guide.

Option 2: The Alphabetical Index by Categories. Non-profits are proving to be nimble and are quickly reacting to the needs they are seeing in our community.

These categories therefore directly reflect the work that they are currently doing (rather than what they were doing up until the COVID-19 crisis).

We felt it was important to reflect their current efforts as they are “boots on the ground,” faced with the most pressing needs and have a greater understanding of the vulnerabilities of the people they serve.

You are invited to access the report by clicking here.

For additional information about the GCC, please visit

Equestrian Aid Foundation Opens Disaster Relief Fund

Wellington, Fla. — Mar. 26, 2020 — The Equestrian Aid Foundation has opened its Disaster Relief Fund to assist equestrian professionals and industry service providers in unexpected financial crisis as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Foundation will prioritize assistance to industry professionals and service providers who have lost their primary or only income as a direct result of the pandemic. A one-time emergency grant payment of $500 is intended to assist qualified applicants with basic living expenses. The grant window for EAF’s COVID-19 relief program is open through April 15.

In light of the recent guidelines set by US Equestrian regarding the suspension of horse showing for an extended period of time, the equestrian community is facing critical need now more than ever.

Donations made to EAF’s Disaster Relief Fund at this time will be directed in full toward assistance for equestrian professionals and industry service providers in financial crisis directly due to the suspension and related cancellations caused by COVID-19.

For more information about Equestrian Aid Foundation, please visit

Eagala Celebrated 20th Anniversary with Record-Breaking Attendance at 2020 Conference

Lexington, Ky. – March 16, 2020 – Eagala recently celebrated their 20th Anniversary with record-breaking attendance during their Vision 360 conference on February 26-29. Over 630 people, Eagala members and those passionate about equines from across the U.S., and twenty countries gathered in Lexington to network, learn, and celebrate the past 20 years, while creating clarity for the next 20 years in the rapidly growing Eagala Model approach. The Eagala Model combines licensed mental health professionals, qualified equine specialists, and horses to effectively work with clients addressing mental health issues.

As part of the conference, Eagala was proud to host the Congressional Horse Caucus on Saturday, Feb. 29th.  Eagala CEO, Lynn Thomas, with the support of the American Horse Council, and members of the Congressional Horse Caucus attended a live, hands-on demonstration with horses and a panel discussion at the Lexington Convention Center.

Thousands of pounds of dirt were brought in to transform the basement of the Lexington Convention Center into a working indoor arena. Following the demonstration, the panel met about the impact of incorporating horses in mental health services for Veterans with PTSD and re-entry transitions, suicide prevention, substance abuse recovery, rural mental health issues, and other mental health needs in which horses can have a positive impact on treatment outcomes.

In attendance was Horse Caucus Co-chairman Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY 6), a member of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, who prior to the Caucus participated in an Eagala session with Kentucky-based veterans. Representative Barr has been a strong advocate for this method to improve the lives of veterans and horses, including retired racehorses.  He has led legislation funding equine-assisted services for mental health issues through the Veterans Administration Adaptive Sports Grant, and co-sponsored the IMPROVE Well Being for Veterans Act (H.R. 3495) – a veteran suicide prevention bill to provide grants to community organizations that interact with veterans who may not seek care at the VA, and includes access to equine-assisted services.

Invited to participate in the panel were members of the Congressional Horse Caucus, leaders in the horse and equine-assisted services industries, and veterans and others who have benefited from these services. The Caucus was moderated by Eagala Legislative Director, Ellen Stroud. To learn more about Eagala, please visit their website here.

USET Foundation and US Equestrian Mourn Loss of Patrick “Packy” McGaughan

Patrick McGaughan and Tanzer at the 1987 Pan American Games. Photo by Margaret Kaiser/USEA Archives Photo.

In addition to McGaughan’s competitive achievements, he was an esteemed coach and trainer in Area II, advancing horses and riders to the highest level of the sport. McGaughan ran Banbury Cross Farm in Clarksburg, Maryland, which grew into a leading training, breeding, and boarding facility for eventing, dressage, hunter, and equitation riders. One could often spot him at numerous events across the East Coast, instructing athletes across all levels of the sport.

The USET Foundation and US Equestrian extend their condolences to McGaughan’s family, friends, and students, who were touched by his love, humor, and teaching. His presence will be greatly missed.

Contact: Emily Randolph

Public Health Notice for PBIEC Visitors

The Palm Beach International Equestrian Center is taking extra precautions to help you stay healthy during this time of concern posed by the coronavirus (COVID-19). We have reviewed with our employees the recommended precautions listed on the Center for Disease Control website. These precautions are also posted in employee areas of the facility.

Our food handlers and servers are trained on proper hand washing techniques and are wearing gloves when preparing your food. Any employee showing the slightest sign of illness will be sent home and asked to call in prior to their shift. Proper sanitizing methods for surfaces are always used in our food preparation areas.

Although we have a thorough cleaning schedule at the facility, extra housekeeping staff has been allotted for more frequent sanitizing of our restaurants and restrooms. As a further precaution, hand sanitizer has been provided in multiple areas of the facility for exhibitors and spectators. If you are joining us for our Saturday Night Lights events, we will have greeters stationed at each entrance with additional hand sanitizers. In the coming days, fumigators and surface antimicrobial spray will arrive to be used to sanitize all seated areas of the show grounds, including but not limited to the International Arena box seats, stadium seats, International Club, spectator viewing decks, and rider lounges.

We are doing our best to keep our visitors and staff healthy. We appreciate our exhibitors and spectators doing the same for their fellow visitors and staff. Please feel free to call the admin office if you have any concerns or questions at 561-793-5867. For further details, please visit US Equestrian’s resource page here.

Below are the recommended precautions from the CDC website (

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
  • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
  • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
  • For information about hand washing, see CDC’s Handwashing
  • For information specific to healthcare, see CDC’s Hand Hygiene in Healthcare Settings.

These are everyday habits that can help prevent the spread of several viruses. CDC does have specific guidance for travelers.

Equestrian Sport Productions | 561-793-JUMP | |

How $1.3 Million Will Be Put to Work Following the Great Charity Challenge

Wellington, FL – March 8, 2020 – Forty-nine Palm Beach County non-profits are putting their collective $1.3 million dollars in donations to use following their participation in Palm Beach International Equestrian Center’s 11th Annual Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments® (GCC) held on February 1, 2020.

The GCC has become a highlight of the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), organized by Equestrian Sport Productions, and has distributed $14.8 million to 256 local organizations since its founding in 2010.

With reports compiled, highlighting how each benefitting non-profit organization plans to further their mission with the use of their earnings, the final numbers are in: 202,806 lives will be directly impacted following this year’s event. This is made possible, thanks to the contributions of 69 sponsors, donors, and partners.

“Non-profit organizations have an ‘optimized way’ of stretching the impact of a dollar,” comments Mark Bellissimo. “We are inspired to see their intended fund use reports and the number of lives that will benefit from their efforts.”

With grants ranging from $1,000 to $150,000, funding will assist with everything from providing financial stability to guarantee that the ones most at risk will not be left behind, to expanding existing programs and launching new ones in the community, as well as bridging the funding gap between government grants and fundraising.

“We are very grateful for the generous support of our donors,” adds event Co-founder Paige Bellissimo. “This event is a true team effort; we couldn’t do it without their vision, leadership, and belief that change happens at the local level. Many of them have been with us for many years, highlighting their genuine belief in giving back to the local community.”

To view the full intended fund use report, please visit:

Here are a few examples of the funds at work:

For Vita Nova’s Drop-in center, “the Spot”, the $100,000 in funding received through the Great Charity Challenge will provide Intake and Assessment services for 200 homeless and disconnected youth. In addition, youth will be connected to medical and wellness services, education opportunities, including access to our on-site GED program, and case managers who partner with youth to establish and achieve goals related to employment and reduce homelessness.

Step by Step Foundation received $30,000; this directly reflects 5,000 backpacks, pencils, rulers, glue sticks, etc. to be distributed to Palm Beach County based children, plus personal hygiene products and basic necessities for vulnerable individuals, all in partnership with local non-profits.

For Back to Basics, the math is simple. $25,000 equates to at least 2,500 new school uniforms, all of which will enable children to go to school with dignity and be ready to learn. The funds received will enable them to grow their Uniform Program and extend their reach to eight additional middle schools with children that are living at or below poverty level.

Urban Youth Impact was one of five non-profit organizations who benefited from the generosity of the Ziegler Family Foundation, receiving a $10,000 grant. Funding will assist them in empowering 200 inner city youth through their programs, such as through “ReFrame”, a job training program for youth age 15 to 22 years old.

For HomeSafe, the lucky recipient of a Social Media Advertising Grant valued up to $18,000 presented by Great Charity Challenge partner and local digital agency Achieve, the next six months will be spent developing new campaigns to help further their important mission of protecting victims of child abuse and domestic violence, as well as reach new supporters in the community.

The GCC encourages non-profits to take a sustainable approach by awarding unrestricted funding, giving non-profits the ability to choose exactly how the grant will be best utilized to align with their long-term strategy. Donations are released upon a thorough review of their intended fund use plans; complementary quarterly reports will also update donors and the community at large of the progress/achievements being made locally.

“This strategy fully aligns with our 2020-2030 vision,” commented GCC Executive Director Anne Caroline Valtin. “Over the last ten years, we have witnessed first-hand that change happens at the local level. Our commitment for the decade to come is to further promote capacity building, enabling, and bolstering invaluable partnerships as well as concentrating on amplifying the event’s impact.”

All benefiting organizations will be reporting their progress quarterly for the upcoming calendar year. For the latest news and event information, 2021 application process, and sponsorship opportunities, please visit

Equestrian Sport Productions | 561-793-JUMP | |

Grade 1 Winner Game On Dude Nominated to National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame

Game On Dude at Old Friends (Photo: Rick Capone)

GEORGETOWN, KY – MARCH 2, 2020 — The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame announced its nominees for induction in the class of 2020. Old Friends, the Thoroughbred Retirement farm in Georgetown, KY, is proud to announce multiple-graded-stakes winner and racing superstar Game On Dude was among the equine nominees.

The 13-year-old gelded son of Awesome Again – Worldly Pleasure by Devil His Due retired to Old Friends in 2014 following one of the most prestigious campaigns in racing history, and has been a star attraction on the farm, which is open to the public daily.

Game On Dude is turned out with 2012 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Little Mike in what the farm often refers to as the $10 million paddock.

Campaigned by trainer Bob Baffert and owned by a partnership that includes Joe Torre’s Diamond Pride, the Lanni Family Trust, Mercedes Stable, and Bernie Schiappa, Game On Dude holds the distinction of being the only horse to ever capture three runnings of the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap. In his final Big ‘Cap victory, in 2014, he covered the 1-1/4 mile distance in stakes record time of 1:58.17.

In addition, Game On Dude is only the second horse in history to sweep California’s three Grade 1 handicaps — the Santa Anita Handicap, the Hollywood Gold Cup, and the Pacific Classic — in the same year.

In his 34 career starts Game On Dude captured 16 wins, eight of them Grade 1 stakes and 14 graded stakes in all. His career earnings are just under $6.5 million.

“Everyone at Old Friends is thrilled by this well-deserved honor bestowed on the irresistible Dude,” said Old Friends founder and President Michael Blowen. “We think he’s a worthy Hall of Famer and has earned the distinction. Thanks to the Hall of Fame nominating committee for appreciating all that Game On Dude has done for our great sport.”

The 2020 Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. on Friday, August 7, at 10:30 am. The event is free and open to the public (seating is limited).

For more information, please call (502) 863-1775 or visit the website at

MEDIA CONTACT: Cynthia Grisolia, (347) 423-7322,; Michael Blowen (502) 863-1775,

Where Have All the Barn Rats Gone?

Photo © Sarah Schuping.

By Ponymomammy

Lately, I’ve heard a lot of talk about how young riders have changed since when I grew up.  What happened to the good ol’ days where barn rats ran amok for hours on end? Surely they’re still out there and it’s the greatest life you could wish for your teenager, but why are barn rats so hard to find?

When we were kids, it seemed like barn rats were a dime a dozen. Any barn on any given day was guaranteed to have at least a couple scurrying around. For those of you perhaps unfamiliar with the term “barn rat,” I am not referring to the scary rodent variety, but rather the child/teenager who would rather spend all day every day at the barn rather than with other people. They are tough as nails, not afraid to get dirty, fearless, and, now it seems, a dwindling breed. Dare I say, on the verge of extinction.

We were asked to clean stalls, prep feed, or set jumps, bathe horses, or wrap legs. There was no end to the chores that needed doing, and we were free labor with the only renumeration received being the knowledge we gained.

Kids today seem so much “busier” than we were at the same age. They barely have time to show up at the barn, ride, and leave — never mind find extra hours to hang around. Those that do have the time seem to want something in return for their efforts (something more than the learning). While I would love to blame this generation of kids for being spoiled, lazy, or entitled, I’m not sure they are entirely to blame.

Read the full article at


The Horse Capital Parade

For our friends in Florida, an amazing experience with horses is coming soon: the Horse Capital Parade!

Where: Downtown Square Ocala, Florida, the surrounding streets and at the Downtown Market.
March 7, 2020 at 1:00pm – 6:00pm

A vendor village will open at 1pm on the Downtown Square with a beer and wine garden, great vendors, horse breed meet-and-greets, and at 4:30pm, an incredible horse breed parade, the speedy Historic Stagecoach, and the grand finale with the Budweiser Clydesdales. Watch them harness the Clydesdales at 2pm at the Downtown Market. There are also wonderful restaurants with outdoor dining where you can watch the parade.

Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses

Challenge Choreographers and Music Makers Log 100s of Volunteer Hours

Six riders and their horses enter the arena in flamboyant costumes or more traditional dressage attire; pink is the predominant color. The 12 athletes line up in close formation and the music begins.

It’s the Challenge of the Americas (COTA) and, this year, five teams of Grand Prix riders and their well-trained horses will go head-to-head in precisely choreographed team quadrilles set to themed music — all to raise funds for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation through Play for P.I.N.K.

The colorfully festive event involves hundreds of volunteer hours and key to the event’s success are the quadrille teams whose riders, coaches, choreographers, music creators, grooms and support staff donate their expertise and time to help COTA achieve its goal to find a cure for breast cancer in our lifetime. Read more about the choreographers and music makers and how they make the magic happen here.

VIP tickets to the Challenge of the Americas Gala are available now. You can see more information about what a Gold, Silver, or Bronze table patronage includes as well as the benefits of becoming a Partner for Pink at You may purchase your VIP tickets, including individual seats, here. VIP seating with dinner and dancing begin at 6:00 p.m.

General Admission tickets will be available at the gate on the night of the event. Gates will open at 5:00 p.m. for General Admission seating. Tickets are $20 per adult and children 12 and under are FREE. Food and beverage will be available for purchase at the venue.

You can be assured that 100% of the proceeds earned from the Challenge of the Americas goes to help fund breast cancer research via Play for P.I.N.K. and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Play for P.I.N.K. helps turn play into serious support. To speed advances in breast cancer detection, treatment, and survivorship, Play for P.I.N.K. (Prevention, Immediate diagnosis, New technology, Knowledge) supports thousands of volunteers nationwide as they raise funds for research through sporting and lifestyle events. Their efforts raise $4.9 million annually — and 100% goes to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.