Imagination Leads the Way for Palm Beach County Charities at 2017 Great Charity Challenge

Costumes, like Olaf from the movie “Frozen”, were a big hit at the 2016 GCC. Photos by Meg Banks.

Wellington, FL – October 12, 2016 – What if you didn’t have to remain a child to dream of miracles? Imagination will be getting a chance to shine for Palm Beach non-profit organizations this coming February.

For the past seven years, equestrians and their loyal mounts have been captivating the local community at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL. These teams of riders have one goal in mind: to paint a brighter future for Palm Beach County charities in their chance to win up to $150,000.

The Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments®, is inviting all Palm Beach County-based charities to apply to participate in the event’s eighth edition, a pro-amateur relay show jumping competition.

Thirty-four of these randomly drawn charities will not have to wake up from their dreams on Saturday, February 4, 2017, to receive a share of the $1.5 million dollar purse.

The application process will open on October 15, 2016, and will remain active through 5:00 PM on November 15, 2016, via All non-profit organizations in Palm Beach County are invited to apply and try their good fortune!

Olympic silver medalist Kent Farrington
Olympic silver medalist Kent Farrington

The GCC, founded in 2010 by Mark and Katherine Bellissimo of Equestrian Sport Productions and their daughter Paige, has distributed more than $9.2 million from the equestrian community to over 200 non-profits in Palm Beach County over the last seven years.  What makes this event truly unique is the fact that 100% of the money raised gets distributed to local non-profits. With 34 participants randomly selected each year, first place is guaranteed $150,000 with a sliding scale to the minimum amount of $15,000 for every participating charity.

In 2015 and 2016, the GCC made the event even more fun for those participating and watching by incorporating themes. Riders dressed up in costume and decked out their horses to the theme of “Superheroes” and “Fairy Tales.” The GCC is proud to reveal this year’s theme is “Animated Movies.”

Mark Bellissimo commented, “This eighth year is a milestone for the GCC; as of February 4, 2017, we will have officially surpassed the $10 million donation mark. Our theme of ‘Animated Movies’ is a perfect fit to acknowledge those who imagine a better community. This event is truly the legacy of the Winter Equestrian Festival and the sponsors involved. We can’t thank them enough for their support.”

Paige Bellissimo added, “The GCC is a unique event that allows us to raise awareness of the diverse charitable organizations throughout the community. One hundred percent of the funds are distributed to local charities. The event is a dream come true to the heroes that lead these deserving non-profits. We are very grateful for our rider teams, sponsors, and partners who support the effort.”

If you know of a deserving Palm Beach County-based charity, please have them visit for full application details and information. Please note that the application process for the 2017 GCC is only open from October 15, 2016, through November 15, 2016 (5:00 PM).

The drawing for the 34 charities that have applied to participate in the 2017 GCC will be held 100% at random in December 2016 (TBA).

For the latest event information and application guidelines, please visit and follow us on Facebook at

Anne Caroline Valtin

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