Tag Archives: Great Charity Challenge

Veterans Rule the Day in $209k Marshall & Sterling/Great American Grand Prix CSI 4*

Beezie Madden and Darry Lou. Photo © Sportfot.

Wellington, FL – February 2, 2019 – In a day full of top competition at both venues of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL, fans of equestrian sport were treated to a thrilling jump-off in the $209,000 Marshall & Sterling/Great American Grand Prix CSI 4* on Saturday, February 2. Olympic team gold medalist Beezie Madden (USA) rode Darry Lou to the top spot in the grand prix.

Competing over a course set by Brazil’s Anderson Lima on the stunning grass derby field at Equestrian Village, 45 entries completed the first round, with 13 clear to advance to the jump-off. Of those 13, it was a mix of show jumping veterans and up-and-coming rookies, but it was the veterans who would take the podium places on the day.

Olympian Amy Millar of Canada and her 2016 Olympic mount Heros, owned by Ammo Investments, set the early time to beat with a clear round in 41 seconds flat, which would hold up for seventh place. The leading time was dropped to 38.87 seconds by 21-year-old Lucas Porter (USA) riding Sleepy P Ranch LLC’s Diamonte Darco. They would finish in fourth place. Olympian Margie Engle (USA) and Royce galloped through the timers in 40.19 seconds for sixth place, and they were bumped by Amanda Derbyshire (GBR) on Roulette BH, owned by Gochman Sport Horse LLC, who finished in 39.10 seconds for fifth place.

It came down to a highly anticipated jump-off finale with three American riders in the top 4 in the country deciding the final placings.

Tenth Annual Great Charity Challenge Crowns Holy Ground Shelter for the Homeless as Winner

The “Saturday Night Lights” of the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) beamed on Palm Beach County Charities during the 10th Annual Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments® (GCC), on Saturday, February 2. Holy Ground Shelter for the Homeless took home $150,000 as the lion’s share of the $1.3 million in prize money on offer after their team of riders David Blake, Carly Dvorkin, and Madelyn Ruskin, along with team sponsor Pine Hollow and corporate sponsor Havensafe Farm, took the victory.

“We Are the World” was the theme of the night with riders, charities, local families, and horse sport fans coming dressed in support of their favorite nation. In total, the evening’s contributions brought the overall Great Charity Challenge tally to $13.5 million distributed to more than 230 well-deserving Palm Beach County charities over the last 10 years.

Small Request and Augusta Iwasaki Dominate the Small Junior Hunter 3’6” 15 & Under Division

Saturday competition in the Rost Arena at the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) saw 15 horse-and-rider teams return for an early morning start in the Small Junior Hunter 3’6” 15 & Under division. Augusta Iwasaki of Calabasas, CA returned to the ring with three separate mounts but would ultimately take the tricolor ribbon aboard her newest mount, Small Request.

Iwasaki and the seven-year-old Westphalian gelding (Quaid x For Bella) held the lead for the duration of the division as the duo picked up three firsts and a second across the classes. Small Request is a recently imported gelding owned by Elizabeth Reilly and Augusta/Chris Iwasaki.

For full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

Wellington Schools Unite for the Great Charity Challenge

Palm Beach Central High School’s chalk art creation from 2017’s GCC.

Ringside Chalk Art Festival and Special Performance Pairs Young Talent and Philanthropy

Wellington, FL – January 23, 2019 – At the heart of the Winter Equestrian Capital of the World, the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL has welcomed local elementary, middle, and high schools for the last seven years, showcasing their talents to thousands of spectators during the twelve-week season. With the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival underway, this year’s initiatives have been announced. Additional to each school being individually featured during the season, all 12 schools will unite for the 2019 Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments® (GCC), on Saturday, February 2.

This year’s event theme of “We Are the World” will focus on promoting unity and celebrate the cultural differences in our community. A Ringside Chalk Art Festival, honoring young talent and Palm Beach County philanthropy, will celebrate, inspire, and encourage the creative expressions of the students and their teachers while empowering the participants of the 2019 GCC.

From horse statue decorations to mini-jump creations, the 12 public schools in Wellington have showcased their diversity and imagination via annual projects at PBIEC over the years. The proposed initiative is available for students in first through 12th grades.

Each Wellington school will be provided with a 4-foot by 6-foot giant chalkboard and have three hours to bring their creation to life, showcasing what the several charitable causes represented that evening means to them. A panel of judges composed of Carolina King, President of the Wellington Art Society (WAS), Leslie Pfeiffer, WAS Development Chair, Laurie Snow Hein, Award winning Florida Artist, and Jen Hernandez, local business owner of Art Cellar will facilitate the judging process and present the awards. The GCC guarantees a minimum of a $1,000 donation to each school’s art department for participating.

Furthermore, the choirs of Palm Beach Central High School and Wellington High School, under the leadership of Mr. Scott Houchins and Mr. Bradford Chase, respectively, will join forces in an unprecedented performance that is sure to leave the public inspired.

The 2019 GCC will distribute $1+ million to local charities. This year’s event is sure to entertain adults and children alike, with riders dressed up in costumes and horses adorned to match them, featuring the theme “We Are the World.”

“On behalf of Equestrian Sport Productions and Wellington Equestrian Partners, we look forward to welcoming the 2019 participants of the GCC as well as the Wellington public schools. Highlighting the power of partnerships in creating true change, the talent and imagination of the students joining us will remind us all that anyone can indeed ‘be the change they wish to see in the world,'” stated Paige Bellissimo.

The GCC, founded in 2010 by the Bellissimo family of Equestrian Sport Productions, has distributed $12.2 million from the equestrian community to more than 230 non-profits in Palm Beach County over the last nine years. The Wellington PTA/PTO is the only group to receive an automatic admission into the event every year and has received well over $480,000 to date.

The GCC competition at the Winter Equestrian Festival will offer free General Admission and will be held Saturday evening, February 2, 2019, at 6:00 PM. Free parking will be located at 13500 South Shore Blvd., Wellington, FL 33414.

For the latest event information, please visit www.greatcharitychallenge.com and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greatcharitychallenge.

Introducing the First 25 Charities Selected to Participate in 2019 Great Charity Challenge

Wellington, FL – December 13, 2018 – With a strong belief that change happens through the power of united communities, the 2019 Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments® (GCC) is proud to introduce the first 25 Palm Beach County charities who will be taking center stage on Saturday, February 2, 2019.

With over 360 applications received for the chance to participate in the 10th Annual GCC, this year’s charity selection took place throughout Palm Beach County between Friday, November 30 and Saturday, December 8, 2018. The excitement level was high to see whose names would get drawn out of the “traveling” lottery drum. At stake: a chance to share the $1+ million purse. To date, the event has distributed $12.2 million to over 230 Palm Beach County charities.

A total of 24 charities were randomly drawn throughout the week’s festivities, in addition to the Wellington Public Schools PTA/PTO/PTSA (the only automatic entry included every year).

This year’s new selection format brought the community closer and highlighted some of the individuals who make the GCC a reality. Joining Paige Bellissimo, co-founder of the GCC, were Wellington Mayor Anne Gerwig and Vice Mayor Michael Drahos, as well as Village Council members Michael Napoleone, Tanya Syskind, and John McGovern; Palm Beach County Mayor Melissa McKinlay; several team and corporate sponsors of the event; local news anchor Roxanne Stein; a live appearance on WPTV and a visit to Wellington’s Winterfest on Friday, September 7, 2018. To guarantee full transparency in the selection process, all drawings were posted via Facebook: www.facebook.com/greatcharitychallenge.

Paige Bellissimo, co-founder of the event, commented, “We are very excited to see such a diverse group of nonprofit organizations join us for this tenth edition. The encouragements and true camaraderie witnessed on social media, between non-profits during the selection process, was heartwarming. We hope that this year’s GCC will unite all involved, from the sponsors and riders, to the nonprofits involved and the community at large!”

Blending philanthropy and equestrian sports, the GCC is an exciting show jumping event that brings hope to Palm Beach County charities every year.

Shaw Thomas, Board President of Speak Up for Kids, commented, “For a local charity, making a direct local impact as we do through Speak Up for Kids, being selected for the GCC is a huge vote of confidence and exciting opportunity for increased impact.”

Future charity drawings will be held at random during the first weeks of the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival and the final two wild card teams will be drawn the night of the GCC.

“We hold a strong belief that change happens through the power of united communities. From the amazing sponsors who make the event possible, the equestrians who donate their time, skills, and horses to compete, to the passionate and dedicated individuals who work tirelessly to better the community, attending the GCC will simply restore your faith in humanity,” mentioned Anne Caroline Valtin, Executive Director of the GCC.

For a full list of charities drawn to date (listed alphabetically), please visit: https://bit.ly/2QrMyIa.

Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP), the PBIEC operating organization that oversees equestrian events at the venue throughout the year, donates the facility, staff, and infrastructure to ensure the success of the charitable event and guarantees that 100% of the funds raised are redistributed in the community.

Mark your calendars for the 2019 GCC to be held on Saturday, February 2, 2019 at the PBIEC during WEF’s “Saturday Night Lights” series. With riders dressed up in costumes and horses adorned to match them, this year’s theme of “We Are the World” will focus on promoting unity and celebrate the cultural differences in our community. An art contest involving all 12 Wellington public schools will showcase the different causes represented that evening, from fighting hunger, to education, etc. Spectators will enjoy free general admission and parking, while supporting their favorite charity as riders compete for their nonprofit’s share of the $1+ million-dollar purse.

For more information on the Great Charity Challenge (GCC), please visit www.greatcharitychallenge.com.

Charity Selection for Great Charity Challenge to Take Place throughout Palm Beach County

Wellington, FL – November 29, 2018 – With over 360 applications received for the chance to participate in the 2019 Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments® (GCC), this year’s annual charity selection will take place throughout Palm Beach County between Friday, November 30 and Saturday, December 8, 2018. A total of 24 charities will be randomly drawn and earn a spot in the highly anticipated 10th annual GCC to be held on Saturday, February 2, 2019, for a chance to win up to $150,000!

In years past, the drawing of the charities took place at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). This new selection format will bring the community closer and highlight some of the individuals who make the GCC a reality. Joining Paige Bellissimo, co-founder of the GCC, will be Wellington Mayor Anne Gerwig and Vice Mayor Michael Drahos, as well as Village Council members Michael Napoleone, Tanya Siskind, and John McGovern; Palm Beach County Mayor Melissa McKinlay; several team and corporate sponsors of the event; local news anchor Roxanne Stein; a live appearance on WPTV; and a visit to Wellington’s Winterfest on Friday, December 7, 2018. To guarantee full transparency in the selection process, all drawings will be posted via Facebook: www.facebook.com/greatcharitychallenge.

The GCC is an exciting pro-am show jumping event that brings together over 30 equestrian families and companies as they sponsor a competing team for $25,000 and $10,000, respectively. Each team is assigned to compete for one of the randomly selected charities, offering amateur riders the chance to compete side-by-side with their Olympic and world-class professional equestrian heroes and role models. With additional donations from local families, businesses, sponsors, vendors, exhibitors, and spectators, the 2019 GCC is on track to fundraise and distribute over $1 million in Palm Beach County. Prize money for participating charities will range from $150,000 to $15,000, ensuring that every charity is a winner.

Mark Bellissimo, CEO of Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC, and co-founder of the Great Charity Challenge with his daughter Paige, commented, “We look forward to kick-starting our 2019 season with this initiative. We hope that the GCC will become the legacy of our partnership and this facility. This year’s list of applicants is truly inspiring. They work tirelessly to make Palm Beach County a better place – we are very grateful for them!”

Paige Bellissimo added, “The GCC is a unique event that allows us to raise awareness of the diverse charitable organizations throughout the community. We hope that this year’s edition will unite all involved, from the sponsors and riders, to the nonprofits involved and the community at large! We are very grateful for those who support the effort.”

PBIEC is home to the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), the largest and longest running horse show in the world. WEF will run January 9 through March 31, 2019. Equestrian Sport Productions (ESP), the PBIEC operating organization that oversees equestrian events at the venue throughout the year, donates the facility, staff, and infrastructure to ensure the success of the charitable event.

Mark your calendars for the 2019 Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments® to be held on Saturday, February 2, 2019, at the PBIEC during the Winter Equestrian Festival’s popular “Saturday Night Lights” series. This family-friendly event offers free general admission and parking. With riders dressed up in costumes and horses adorned to match them, this year’s theme of “We Are the World” will focus on promoting unity and celebrate the cultural differences in our community.

Future charity drawings will be held at random during the first weeks of the 2019 Winter Equestrian Festival and the final two wild card teams will be drawn the night of the GCC on Saturday, February 2, 2019.

For the latest event information and application guidelines, visit www.greatcharitychallenge.com and learn more about the GCC on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greatcharitychallenge.

Uniting the Community at the 2019 Great Charity Challenge

Photo ©PBIEC.

Wellington, FL – October 23, 2018 – With a strong belief that change happens through the power of communities, Palm Beach County charities will get a chance to inspire and expand their impacts this coming February.

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

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

Thirty of these randomly drawn charities will meet their randomly paired teams on Saturday, February 2, 2019, to receive a share of the more than a $1 million dollar purse.

The application process opened on October 15, 2018 and will remain active through 5:00 PM on November 15, 2018 via www.greatcharitychallenge.com. All non-profit organizations in Palm Beach County are invited to apply and try their luck!

The GCC, founded in 2010 by Mark and Katherine Bellissimo of Equestrian Sport Productions and their daughter Paige, has distributed more than $12.2 million from the equestrian community to 230 non-profits in Palm Beach County. One hundred percent of the money raised gets distributed to local non-profits every year, with first place receiving $150,000 and all participating charities being guaranteed a minimum amount of $15,000.

Over the last four years, the GCC brought team spirit to a new level by incorporating themes into this yearly celebration. With riders dressed up in costumes and horses adorned to match them, this year’s theme of “We Are the World” will focus on promoting unity and celebrate the cultural differences in our community. An art contest involving all 12 Wellington public schools will showcase the different causes represented that evening, from fighting hunger, to education, etc.

Mark Bellissimo, managing partner of Wellington Equestrian Partners, commented, “This tenth year honors the diversity in our community. With riders from all over the world, our organization showcases the benefit that comes from embracing each other’s differences and unity towards this greater good. 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, who is actively involved in the community, added, “The GCC is a unique event that allows us to raise awareness of the diverse charitable organizations throughout the community. We hope that this year’s edition will unite all involved, from the sponsors and riders, to the non-profits involved and the community at large! We are very grateful for those who support the effort.”

If you know of a deserving Palm Beach County-based charity, please have them visit www.greatcharitychallenge.com for full application details and information. Please note that the application process for the 2019 GCC is open from October 15 through November 15, 2018 (5:00 PM).

The first random drawing to select the lucky charities from those that have applied to participate in the 2019 GCC will be held on December 1, 2018 at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.

For the latest event information and application guidelines, visit www.greatcharitychallenge.com and learn more about the GCC on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greatcharitychallenge.

Daniel Bluman and Sancha LS Fly to $205,000 NetJets Grand Prix CSI 4* Victory

Daniel Bluman and Sancha LS. Photo © Sportfot.

Wellington, FL – February 3, 2018 – Victory on the grass derby field in Saturday’s $205,000 NetJets Grand Prix CSI 4* went to Daniel Bluman (ISR) riding his veteran partner Sancha LS.

The biggest jumper class of the week was held on the beautiful grass derby field, and 44 entries went to post in the first round over a course designed by Anderson Lima of Brazil. Nine were clear and advanced to the jump-off.

Sixth to go in the jump-off and setting a new leading time was Margie Engle (USA) on the 18-year-old KWPN gelding by Indoctro x Dutchman, Indigo. Looking half his age, they flew around course in a time of 44.30 seconds, which would hold up for third place.

Immediately following in the jump-off was Beezie Madden (USA) on Con Taggio, a nine-year-old Oldenburg gelding by Contagio x Golliath Life owned by Abigail Wexner. It was the horse’s first ever grand prix, and he rose to the occasion. They recorded a new leading time of 43.48 seconds, and eventually finished second.

Taking the lead as the next horse in the ring, Bluman and Sancha LS, a 15-year-old La Silla-bred mare by Chin Chin x Polydor, brought the winning time down to 43.39 seconds.

Lugano Diamonds Amateur-Owner Hunter 3’6” 18-35 Victory Goes to Grace Tuton aboard Sorbet

Grace Tuton, of Scottsdale, AZ, rode her mount, Sorbet, owned by Nicodemus Farms, to the top of the class on Saturday in the Lugano Diamonds Amateur-Owner Hunter 3’6” 18-35 division. Tuton and the 13-year-old grey mare secured the championship win with a first in the under saddle and a second, third, fourth, and sixth over fences.

Saturday’s championship win was an exciting highlight for Tuton, as this is her first year competing as an amateur and exhibitor at the Winter Equestrian Festival. The young rider impressed throughout the morning and took ribbons on two other entries in the division, Bozeman and Gelato, both owned by Nicodemus Farms. However, Tuton stayed true to character on Sorbet, also known as Soba, and expressed her delight with the mare’s ride today in the E. R. Mische Grand Hunter ring.

Celebrities of the Ninth Annual Great Charity Challenge

On Saturday night, Palm Beach County cheered as the Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments® (GCC), distributed $1.5 million to local non-profit organizations at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). The GCC has become a highlight of the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) and has distributed over $12.2 million to more than 220 local organizations in nine years.

Equestrian Sport Productions | 561-793-JUMP | news@equestriansport.com | www.PBIEC.com

Celebrating the Stars of the Community at PBIEC during 2018 Great Charity Challenge

Photo Credit ©GreatCharityChallenge.

Wellington, FL – October 16, 2017 – Palm Beach County charities will get a chance to showcase what it truly means to be a star this coming February.

For the past eight years, equestrians and their dazzling 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 give Palm Beach County charities a chance to shine and win up to $150,000.

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

Thirty-four of these randomly drawn charities will meet their “lucky star” on Saturday, February 3, 2018, to receive a share of the $1.5 million dollar purse.

The application process opened on October 16, 2017 and will remain active through 5:00 PM on November 15, 2017 via www.greatcharitychallenge.com. All non-profit organizations in Palm Beach County are invited to apply and try their good fortune.

The GCC, founded in 2010 by Mark and Katherine Bellissimo of Equestrian Sport Productions and their daughter Paige, has distributed more than $10.8 million from the equestrian community to 220 non-profits in Palm Beach County.  What sets this event apart 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.

Over the last three years, the GCC brought team spirit to a new level by incorporating themes. With riders dressed up in costumes and horses adorned to match them, the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center welcomed, “Superheroes”, “Fairy Tales Characters” and “Animated Characters”. The GCC is proud to reveal this year’s theme: “Hollywood Feature Film”, a tribute to “A Night When Everyone Is a Star”.

Mark Bellissimo commented, “This ninth year honors the local stars of our community.  We hope to give them an opportunity to shine and let them redefine what ‘stars’ are truly made of. 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, who is actively involved in the community, added, “The GCC is a unique event that allows us to raise awareness of the diverse charitable organizations throughout the community. We hope that this year’s edition will help future generations see what stars are truly made of! 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 www.greatcharitychallenge.com for full application details and information. Please note that the application process for the 2018 GCC is open from October 16, 2017 through November 15, 2017 (5:00 PM).

The random drawing to select the 34 charities from those that have applied to participate in the 2018 GCC will be held on December 2, 2017 at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (Wellington).

For the latest event information and application guidelines, please visit www.greatcharitychallenge.com and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greatcharitychallenge.

Urban Youth Impact Wins Great Charity Challenge at WEF

Shane Sweetnam. Photos © Sportfot.

Farrington Tops Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic; Staszak Takes Beval Palm Beach Adult Medal

Wellington, FL – February 4, 2017 – The team of riders Shane Sweetnam, Lindsey Tomeu, and Sedona Chamblee, team sponsors Spy Coast & Preston, and corporate sponsor Equine Tack & Nutritionals earned the top prize of $150,000 for their charity, Urban Youth Impact, on Saturday night in the 8th annual Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments®, at the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).

Also competing at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL on Saturday, Olympic silver medalist Kent Farrington won the $35,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic riding Sherkan d’Amaury.

The 2017 GCC donated a record $1.5 million to 35 local Palm Beach County charities, bringing the eight-year total up to $10.7 million distributed through the event to date. The winning charity received the top prize of $150,000, with a sliding scale for the balance of the proceeds down to 35th place, which wins $15,000.

The competition is held as a pro-am team relay with each team made up of junior and amateur riders competing side by side with top professionals. The event also featured a fun theme, as riders (and their horses) dressed up as characters from their favorite animated movies.

Representing Urban Youth Impact, Sweetnam, Tomeu, and Chamblee rode for team sponsor Spy Coast & Preston, and corporate sponsor Equine Tack and Nutritionals dressed as characters from The Flintstones. All three riders cleared the course without fault and clocked the fastest combined time of 85.27 seconds for the win. Sweetnam and Tomeu were also part of the winning team in 2016, while Chamblee was competing in the event for the first time.

“It is a fantastic cause, not just for our team, but for a lot of different foundations in the area,” said Sweetnam, who anchored the team as professional rider. “I do not know if there is anything else like it in the country or anywhere really. Every year we try to do our best for whatever cause we are given. Obviously the girls did a great job, and I just finished it off. They were really motoring, so it was great.”

Tomeu (23), who has been competing in the event for the past four years, stated, “Every year we really try hard to win. We put together a good team, and last year we had a great team. We really wanted to step it up and do it again, and we did, which is amazing. We were even faster this year than we were last year, which I did not think was possible. Sedona was fantastic with her switch-off. It was really amazing.”

Chamblee (15) added, “This was my first year doing the Great Charity Challenge, and it was really fun. It was a great experience, and you get to ride for an amazing charity, which is really cool. Like Lindsey said, it was just amazing.”

Representing team sponsor Spy Coast Farm, Lisa Lourie commented on her team’s win for the second year in a row.

“I think it is a great way to involve the community here with our sport, as well as for us to give back to the community,” Lourie stated. “It is a win-win for both the community and for us. When we get to be involved with either educational or urban youth organizations, we are especially happy. We are very happy to be involved with Urban Youth Impact.”

Team sponsor Monica Preston added, “I am so proud to be a part of this group, and it is really wonderful that a small charity can benefit so greatly. I am so proud of the riders, and thank you to Lisa for getting me involved in this event.”

Charity winner Urban Youth Impact’s mission is to love, equip, and empower inner-city youth and their parents to fulfill their God-given purpose. Representing the organization, volunteer Sarah Armada detailed, “It is an organization that provides a safe place for kids to go after school. They get reading support; they get the arts. There is African drumming and ballet. There are things that these children would not be otherwise exposed to. They do so much for the community, and I think this is a great way to get their name out there and just provide them with all of the resources that those kids so desperately need. This is going to make a huge difference.”

Armada continued, “It is all about building their capacity and letting the kids feel empowered and equipped so that they can go out and be successful in their community.”

Adopt a Family was the second wildcard draw of the night, and ended up in second place overall, with riders Sydney Shulman, Lilli Hymowitz, and Hannah Patten representing the charity. Team sponsor the Patten family and corporate sponsor H5 Stables supported the riders, dressed as characters from Lilo & Stitch, with a combined time of 94.02 seconds.

Representing the charity Hepzibah House, Canadian Olympian Tiffany Foster, and amateur riders Alexandra Crown and Alexandra Welles, placed third. Dressed as My Little Ponies and riding for team sponsor the Crown family and corporate sponsor Stone Hill Farm, all three ladies jumped their courses without fault and clocked a combined time of 97.47 seconds.

GCC co-founder Paige Bellissimo was thrilled with the success of the eighth annual event and praised everyone involved on a fantastic evening of sport and charitable giving.

“It is really special year after year to have so many great riders participating in the event,” Bellissimo stated. “It is amazing that people donate their time to give back. The executive directors of all of the charity organizations are the lifeblood of these communities, and it is just really amazing that we can all come together to support the community and see it grow. I want to thank the riders and the sponsors. Thank you Lisa and Monica for supporting year after year. It is so cool to see the charities and everyone’s unique way of helping. Urban Youth Impact is empowering our youth, and the youth are our future, so thanks go to them for everything they do.”

Farrington Tops Suncast® 1.50m

2016 U.S. Olympic team silver medalist Kent Farrington was the winner of week four’s $35,000 Suncast® 1.50m Championship Jumper Classic on Saturday at the Winter Equestrian Festival riding Sherkan d’Amaury. Jumping a track set by course designer Steve Stephens (USA), Farrington topped a class of 29 entries and an eight-horse jump-off.

Kent Farrington and Sherkan d’Amaury

Sherkan d’Amaury, an 11-year-old Selle Francais gelding (Kannan x Quick Star) owned by Farrington, Haity McNerney, and Daniel Crown, carried his rider to victory in a time of 39.54 seconds over the short course. Shane Sweetnam (IRL) took second and third place honors, riding the Blue Buckle Group’s Cobolt through the timers in 39.92 seconds, and stopping the clock in 40.56 seconds aboard Sweet Oak Farm and Seabrook LLC’s Main Road. Canada’s Beth Underhill finished fourth, riding Sandy Lupton’s Count Me In to a clear round over the jump-off track in 40.59 seconds.

Remarking on his winning round with Sherkan d’Amaury, Farrington stated, “For him, I just did what I thought his strengths were. I think what won the class today was the leave-out to the last fence. He has a very big stride and big scope, and he is so careful that he is actually better if I am catching every jump accelerating, or out of rhythm. I think that is where we got it today.

“I think a lot of this horse,” Farrington continued. “I had him last year, and then he had a terrible colic surgery, and he just started showing this winter two weeks ago. The first class in the week he was third, and then yesterday he was second, and today he won, so he is really on the mend and I’m happy to have him back.”

Sherkan d’Amaury has a fast pace and a unique way of going that suits Farrington’s strengths as a rider.

“He is my style. He is super careful, which I try to find in all of the horses I buy,” Farrington stated. “I try to get extreme quality, and sometimes that works against me, but in the end I think that is the way you get the best horses. They tend to be a little bit the weirdos. They are spooky and not always the easiest to ride, but that often goes hand-in-hand with an extreme horse that has that kind of blood and that kind of carefulness. It is a double-edged sword, but that is what I like to ride.”

Sherkan d’Amaury is just getting back in top form and Farrington will continue developing him throughout the winter circuit.

“I think he can jump anything,” the rider noted. “It is just a matter of building him the right way, and seeing where his confidence is, and what his body is ready for. He came off of a long gap there not doing anything all last year, so we’ll see where he goes. It is a long winter and we have lots of time to build him up, so I am looking forward to it.”

Also competing in the International Arena on Saturday, Sarah Bagworth and Goldfinder vd Hengstenpoel won the $15,000 SJHOF High Amateur-Owner Classic, presented by Engel & Völkers.

Staszak Captures Beval Palm Beach Adult Medal Victory

The Beval Palm Beach Adult Medal concluded Saturday morning with Catie Staszak of Boynton Beach, FL emerging as the winner. Staszak shows in the Adult Amateur Medals while also focusing on her career as a multimedia sports journalist. All 11 competitors participated in a jumping and a flat phase.

“Flatwork has typically been my weakness,” Staszak detailed. “The jumping phase felt phenomenal. Everything worked out well and was smooth, which is key. It wasn’t the most technical course, so it was really about position and keeping on a nice rhythm.”

Staszak was aboard Agnes Augusta, a 12-year-old Swedish Warmblood mare owned by East Wind Farm, LLC. The pair has been partnered together for about four years.

“We just click,” Staszak explained. “She’s really sensitive, and I’m a very soft rider so we get along well. She’s come so far, especially in the past year. I couldn’t be prouder of her. She’s really special, and I love her to death.”

Staszak rode in the equitation classes as a junior, but took a break from showing to get her degree in broadcast journalism at the University of Miami. She does grand prix commentary for live streaming events, which combines for a career of two of her passions – horses and journalism.

Rounding out the top three competitors were Sara Ballinger taking second place and Elissa Davis being awarded third place.

The fourth week of WEF concludes on Sunday with the $216,000 Ariat® Grand Prix CSI 4* on the grass derby field at Equestrian Village. The Bruno DelGrange Large Junior Hunter 16-17 division will award championship and reserve honors in the Rost Arena. For full results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

School Art Initiative to Honor Great Charity Challenge Participants at PBIEC

Animation Ringside Chalk Art Festival Pairs Young Talent and Philanthropy

Wellington, FL – January 19, 2017 – At the heart of the Winter Equestrian Capital of the World, the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) in Wellington, FL has welcomed art departments from local elementary, middle, and high schools for the last four years, showcasing their talents to thousands of spectators during the twelve-week season. With the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival fast approaching, this year’s art initiative has been announced. An Animation Ringside Chalk Art Festival, honoring young talent and Palm Beach County philanthropy, will take place during the 2017 Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments® (GCC), on Saturday, February 4.

From horse statue decorations to mini-jump creations, the 12 public schools in Wellington have showcased their diversity and imagination via annual projects at PBIEC over the years. The proposed initiative is available for students in first through 12th grades.

The Ringside Chalk Art Festival will celebrate, inspire, and encourage the creative expressions of the students and their teachers while empowering the participants of the 2017 GCC.

The 2017 GCC will distribute more than $1.5 million to local charities. This year’s event is sure to inspire adults and children alike, as riders will dress as their favorite animated characters and bring beloved movie characters to life at PBIEC.

Each Wellington school will be provided with a 4-foot by 6-foot giant chalkboard and have two hours to bring their animated creation to life. A panel of judges will present the awards as well as cash prizes.  Each school is guaranteed a minimum of a $1,000 donation for participating. The public will be invited to cast their vote as well.

“On behalf of Equestrian Sport Productions and Wellington Equestrian Partners, we look forward to welcoming the 2017 participants of the GCC as well as the Art Departments of the Wellington public schools. Highlighting the talent and imagination of the students joining us will remind us all that you do not have to be a child to dream of miracles. The evening will honor those that imagine and dream of a better community, while the event sponsors and riders will make it a reality,” stated Paige Bellissimo.

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 more than 200 non-profits in Palm Beach County over the last seven years. The Wellington PTA/PTO is the only group to receive an automatic admission into the event every year and has received well over $350,000 to date.

The GCC competition at the Winter Equestrian Festival will offer free General Admission and will be held Saturday evening, February 4, 2017, at 6:00 PM. Free parking will be located at 13500 South Shore Blvd., Wellington, FL 33414.

For the latest event information, please visit www.greatcharitychallenge.com and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greatcharitychallenge.

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 www.greatcharitychallenge.com. 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 www.greatcharitychallenge.com 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 www.greatcharitychallenge.com and follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/greatcharitychallenge.

Anne Caroline Valtin
annecaroline@equestriansport.com