Tag Archives: Great Charity Challenge

EAF Announces COVID Recovery Grant for Palm Beach County Equestrian Industry Workers

Lenir Perez, Ana Sofia Perez, and Juan Andres Rodriguez competed for EAF in the 2021 Great Charity Challenge. Photo by Lois Spatz.

Mar. 22, 2021 — Wellington, Fla. — The Equestrian Aid Foundation is proud to announce the creation of its Equestrian Recovery Grant Opportunity (ERGO) program. The program — a one-time grant opportunity for qualifying equestrian professionals and industry service providers — has been made possible through the Great Charity Challenge. In the 2021 event, EAF won $40,000 to apply to COVID relief and recovery efforts in Palm Beach County.

Within the horse world, COVID-19 has had a disproportionately detrimental impact on equestrian professionals and industry service providers. As small business owners and independent contractors who occupy a unique niche in the workforce, many members of the equestrian community have been overlooked for SBA and PPP loans or critically underserved by unemployment. The ERGO program is designed to identify local equestrians who fall into these categories and help them regain stability.

“Last March, we opened our first COVID Emergency Grant program within a week of the industry shutdown to quickly help workers in crisis as they figured out their next steps,” said EAF board member Louise Riggio. “The applicant data from this ongoing program demonstrates just how hard hit our equestrian community has been.”

To date, the Equestrian Aid Foundation’s initial COVID Emergency Grant program has delivered over $130,000 in aid to 281 equestrian professionals and industry service providers across the United States. “It’s been inspiring to hear that many of these individuals are back to work and doing well, but we know many others are still struggling,” said EAF board member Robert Ross of Wellington, Fla. “While we can’t mitigate every situation, thanks to the Great Charity Challenge, we will be able to make a considerable impact locally.”

Pursuant to Great Charity Challenge guidelines, the $40,000 ERGO fund will be available to qualified workers who claim Palm Beach County as their full-time residence. More information about the grant program can be found here.

The ERGO program application window will open on Monday, Apr. 4, 2021, at 8 a.m. and will close in early May. The application will be accessible in an online format or as a PDF on the Equestrian Aid Foundation website.

Over $1 Million Distributed to Local Non-Profit Orgs. at the 12th Annual Great Charity Challenge

Shane Sweetnam and Heart on Fire ©Sportfot.

Wellington, FL – February 6, 2021 – HOPE: one word, four letters and so much more. For 46 Palm Beach County Charities, the feeling of hope shifted into a reality on Saturday, February 6, at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC). What is usually the biggest night of the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), the Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments® (GCC) pivoted to a blend of in-person competition for riders and virtual celebration for charities and supporters. Those supporters cheered as equestrians and their mounts, representing local non-profit organizations, competed for a share of more than $1 million in prize money.

Held at PBIEC in Wellington, Palm Beach County, Florida the past 12 years, the GCC has become a highlight of the winter season and has distributed a stunning $15,928,227.66 to 276 local non-profit organizations.

Determined to show the power of united communities, the GCC is an exciting show jumping event that combines equestrian sports and philanthropy, bringing hope to Palm Beach County charities every year. Three riders made up the top team of the night out of 23 pro-am combinations, which are paired with randomly selected Palm Beach County charities. Each team was made up of junior and amateur riders competing side-by-side with top professionals, including Olympians.

In addition to the 23 charities that were part of the GCC competition, an additional 24 non-profits received funding through grants that were awarded leading up to the event. For a full list of benefiting non-profit organizations, we invite you to visit: www.GreatCharityChallenge.com.

“Seeing the level of need in our community and knowing how difficult the past year has been, we quickly realized that we couldn’t turn our backs on our most vulnerable neighbors,” said GCC co-founder Mark Bellissimo. “We are truly grateful to see that the community was able to adapt to this format while stepping up to provide crucial funding to local organizations.”

A moment of silence at the beginning of the event paid recognition to all of the friends of GCC we lost and those who we lost to the pandemic in the past year.

Following a year of uncertainties and challenges, the GCC featured riders dressed up in costumes and horses adorned to match them, paying recognition to the #Heroes who stepped up during the pandemic as well as those who have inspired us to push beyond our own limits and driven us to “dream bigger.”

The winning team of riders – Lindsey Tomeu riding Bonapart, Ashley Vogel on Lucy in the Sky, and Shane Sweetnam aboard Heart on Fire – sponsored by team sponsor Spy Coast and Preston and corporate sponsor Diamante Dressage, came in the ring representing the United States Army as their heroes and finished with a time of 91.664 seconds. Their strategy and teamwork paid off for their assigned charity YWCA of Palm Beach County, a local non-profit organization that is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all, earning them the top prize of $100,000. The sliding scale for the balance of the proceeds, down to 22nd place winning a minimum of $15,000, ensured that everyone was a winner.

For more information and results, please visit www.PBIEC.com.

Pre-COVID-19 Community Effort Felt throughout Palm Beach County

Wellington, FL – June 23, 2020 – Every winter, the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) hosts an event that has a year-long impact for Palm Beach County charities. The Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments® (GCC), an exciting show jumping competition that blends equestrian sports and philanthropy, has become a highlight of the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) and has distributed over $14.8 million to 256 local organizations in 11 years.

While the 2020 WEF season ended early due to COVID-19, the benefiting 49 non-profits from this year’s GCC are putting their collective $1.3 million in donations to use following their participation in the event held on February 1, 2020.

“Non-profit organizations have proven to be nimble and have an ‘optimized way’ of stretching the impact of a dollar,” comments Mark Bellissimo. “Seeing how they have responded and adapted through these unprecedented times is inspiring.”

Organizations benefiting from the GCC continue to serve and support the local community’s well-being. Their outreach and dedicated work span many different sectors within the Palm Beach County region, including food assistance, educational support, veteran aid, foster care, senior citizen care, and family support, to name just a few.

With grants awarded to a grand total of 49 local non-profit organizations, ranging from $1,000 to $150,000, a reported 137,937 lives were impacted in Palm Beach County during their first reporting quarter.

“The GCC was started in 2008, following the economic crisis,” said Paige Bellissimo, co-founder of the event. “The initiative came forward as a way to increase funding to local charities at a time where donations were scarce. The impact of COVID-19 on non-profit organizations replicates the situation of 12 years ago; the community’s need for services/goods provided by these organizations has sky-rocketed while many have had to cancel their major fundraising initiatives and are doing their very best to mobilize resources and donations. We are extremely grateful that the event took place before the start of the pandemic and cannot thank our donors enough for their generous support.”

What exactly does $1.3 million at work look like?

Feed the Hungry Pantry of Palm Beach County was able to react quickly to laid-off and hungry neighbors at the onset of COVID-19. “Within the first few days of the pandemic, we went from feeding 3,000+ families per month to 10,000+ families a week,” commented Executive Director Dan Shorter.

The nonprofit also joined forces with the GCC in applying to be featured in its Emergency Giving Guide as well as participated in the #GivingTuesday movement, in partnership with Equestrian Sport Productions. “Thanks to the GCC, we raised an additional $40,000+ from the western community and acquired dedicated donors that are making sure that we can continue to feed people (as well as their pets)!”

For Wellington Cares, a non-profit organization committed to coordinating volunteers of all ages to assist in enabling persons over the age of 65 to remain in their home with the support of the Wellington community residents and local organizations, funding will not only enable them to replicate their successful model in neighboring cities, but it also enabled them to adequately equip their personal and volunteers with required protective items to ensure that they could continue serving the senior communities.

The Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County provided 414 low-income families with their Education Advocacy Project’s Education Toolkit, assisting them in navigating the often complex federal, state and local laws, rules and regulations governing the services and accommodations that public-school children are entitled to be provided with under current laws.

Other organizations such as the Cultural Council for Palm Beach County and the Equestrian Aid Foundation were able to quick establish Emergency Relief Funds through funding received during the GCC.

These are just a few examples of the 49 benefiting organizations. We invite you to access the full fund use report by visiting HERE.

To provide additional support and to highlight the crucial work of local non-profit organizations during COVID-19, the GCC published an Emergency Giving Guide on April 3, 2020 under the leadership of Executive Director Anne Caroline Valtin. The guide featured 83 non-profits serving immediate needs locally. It was utilized and shared broadly throughout Palm Beach County, giving donors a practical and safe way to identify which efforts they wanted to support during these unprecedented times.

The application process for the 2021 GCC will run from October 15 through November 15, 2020. The GCC board and review committee are on an intentional journey to assess, broaden and understand how they can further commit to diversity, equity and inclusion as organizational values. It has been reviewed and approved that this will also become a requirement for local organizations who wish to apply to benefit from the GCC moving forward. Please note that at this time, the GCC is also actively reviewing other ways to battle social and racial inequality.

For additional information about the event, including donation and sponsorship information, please visit www.greatcharitychallenge.com.

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 www.greatcharitychallenge.com.

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: https://bit.ly/3awxsXN.

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 www.greatcharitychallenge.com.

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

Over $1 Million Distributed to Local Non-Profit Organizations at Great Charity Challenge

Jessica Mendoza and Flashback VDS. Photo © Sportfot.

Wellington, FL – February 1, 2020 – Palm Beach County cheered as equestrians and their mounts, representing local non-profit organizations, competed for a share of more than $1 million in prize money at the Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments® (GCC) on Saturday, February 1. Held 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 $15.8 million to 256 local organizations in 11 years.

The winning team of riders, Jessica Mendoza riding Flashback VDS, Caroline Mewhinney aboard Ballerine de Revel, and first time GCC participant Ana Sofia Rodriguez on Carolina du Toultia Z, sponsored by team sponsor Van Kampen Foundation and corporate sponsor CGM Farms, came in the ring to the music of the Broadway musical “Chicago” and finished with a time of 94.912 seconds. Their strategy and teamwork paid off for Spirit of Giving Network, a local non-profit organization that creates alliances with nonprofit organizations by sharing resources and providing education to strengthen local communities through a variety of causes. They earned the top prize of $150,000. The sliding scale for the balance of the proceeds, down to 24th place, won a minimum of $15,000, ensuring that everyone was a winner.

“The Spirit of Giving is a collaborative non-profit, and we have 72 other non-profit members underneath us that benefit families and children, but we have a lot of variety too,” said Executive Director Lindy Harvey. “So, not only is this helping us, it’s helping 72 other members and thousands of local children. It’s a very big win for us.”

Kent Farrington and Creedance Soar to Stunning Victory in Marshall & Sterling/Great American Insurance Group Grand Prix

U.S. Olympic team silver medalist Kent Farrington and Creedance did what they do best by galloping full tilt to win the $214,000 Marshall & Sterling / Great American Insurance Group Grand Prix CSI4* in the Global Ring at Equestrian Village (home to the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival) on Saturday, February 1, 2020.

From a starting field of 39 horses, 11 advanced to the tie-breaking jump-off set by Brazilian course designer Anderson Lima. After pocketing a grand prix win earlier in the season, Mexico’s Santiago Lambre was poised for a repeat before Farrington and Creedance charged into the ring. Farrington utilized the 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding’s exceptional speed to steal the lead by just under half of a second.

“Creedance is an exceptional horse; he’s naturally so fast and such a winner,” said Farrington of his mount (Lord Z x Notaris). “He’s unbelievably careful and at the same time very brave. He delivered like he usually does, and I was very proud of him today.

“I try to show him where he likes and not overuse him in places where I don’t think he needs to jump,” continued Farrington on how he manages Creedance’s schedule together with co-owner R.C.G. Farm. “I try every winter when I’m here to pick a few weeks where he comes out. The caliber of horses here is very high, and that’s why I think you saw such a strong result from a lot of people today.”

Augusta Iwasaki Sweeps Champion and Reserve in the Small Junior Hunter 15 and Under Division

The Small Junior Hunter 15 and Under division came to a close on Saturday in the Rost Ring with Augusta Iwasaki riding Heaven’s Dream to the championship. Iwasaki catch rode two horses in the division, but Heaven’s Dream came out on top.

Iwasaki and Heaven’s Dream won two classes on the second day of the division, and also received a second in the under saddle along with fifth and sixth places to rise to the top.

“He’s always game and does whatever is asked of him,” Iwasaki said of Heaven’s Dream, a 10-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding by Arko III.

Iwasaki rode Heaven’s Dream, or “Dreamy”, for owner Isabella Griffin of Hampton Cove, AL. Dreamy was recently imported during the indoors season, so he is still fairly new to showing in the United States. “He’s really beginning to put everything together in the ring,” Iwasaki described. “He is just a cool horse and also really nice to ride.”

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

Community Unites for the 11th Annual Great Charity Challenge

©LS Photos.

Wellington, FL – January 28, 2020 – This coming Saturday evening, the Palm Beach County community will once again unite during the annual Great Charity Challenge, presented by Fidelity Investments® (GCC). Held 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 $13.5 million to more than 240 local organizations in ten years.

Determined to feature the power of united communities, the GCC is an exciting show jumping event that blends equestrian sports and philanthropy, bringing hope to over 40 Palm Beach County charities every year. Founded by father/daughter team Mark and Paige Bellissimo, the 11th annual event will distribute an additional $1+ million to Palm Beach County non-profits. The event redistributes 100% of donations received, making all contributions fully tax deductible thanks to Equestrian Sport Productions’ generosity of covering all costs associated with holding the GCC.

“I think a really important aspect of this event is that it brings key players together to support the local community,” comments event co-founder Mark Bellissimo. “Year after year, we are inspired by seeing change in our own backyard. There are countless charities within Palm Beach County that work tirelessly to do just that; we are grateful to our amazing donors who give them access to additional funding, empowering them to do what they do best.”

With riders dressed up in costumes and horses adorned to match them, this year’s theme of “Broadway Musicals” will pay recognition to the wisdom commonly found in these plays. From “You can change the world if you change your mind” (Kinky Boots), “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise!” (Les Misérables), and “If you stand for nothing Burr, what will you fall for?” (Hamilton), all who attend the event will leave inspired to foster the change they wish to see in their own backyards.

With February 1, 2020 marking National Freedom Day, PBIEC and the GCC will also be joining forces with all 12 Wellington public schools. The proposed initiative was made available for students in first through 12th grades, being given a 48”x60” blank canvas and asked to demonstrate what opportunities freedom offers while incorporating recycled materials, encouraging them to turn everyday trash into creative treasures. The “Art Gallery” will be open to the public and each school’s art department is guaranteed a minimum of a $1,000 donation for participating.

The GCC competition will offer free general admission and will be held Saturday evening, February 1, 2020, at 6:00 PM at the PBIEC, during WEF’s “Saturday Night Lights.” Free parking will be located at 13500 South Shore Blvd., Wellington, FL 33414, home to the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival show grounds.

For the latest event information, application process, and sponsorship opportunities, please visit www.greatcharitychallenge.com.

$1+ Million Dollar Prize for Charities at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center

Wellington, FL – October 16, 2019 – With a growing national and global sense that partnerships are at the core of progress and impact, the Great Charity Challenge (GCC), presented by Fidelity Investments®, will once again sharpen the focus on the power of united communities this coming February.

For the past ten years, equestrians and their mounts have been uniting to support those that work tirelessly to better serve Palm Beach County, benefiting hundreds of non-profits at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington, FL. These teams of riders have one goal in mind: to give local charities a chance to win up to $150,000.

Having distributed $13.5 million to over 240 Palm Beach County non-profit organizations to date, the exciting event hinges on the generous support of the equestrian community and local business partners.  Through an open application process, the GCC encourages all Palm Beach County-based charities to apply to participate in the event’s eleventh edition through Friday, November 15, 2019.

Fortunate selectees will meet their randomly paired equestrian teams on Saturday February 1, 2020 to receive a share of the $1+million dollar purse. The winning team’s non-profit will receive $150,000 while all pre-selected participants are guaranteed a minimum grant of $15,000.

The application process is now open, and will remain active through 5:00 PM on Friday, November 15, 2019 via www.greatcharitychallenge.com.

All non-profit organizations in Palm Beach County are invited to apply and try their luck!

Founded in 2010 by Paige Bellissimo and Equestrian Sport Productions, the GCC has maintained its values of professionalism by being “impact-driven.” Transparency guarantees impartiality with its public lottery style selection process and that one hundred percent of the money raised gets distributed to local non-profits.

Over the last five years, the relay-style show jumping competition has brought team spirit to a new level by incorporating themes into each yearly celebration. With riders dressed up in costumes and horses adorned to match them, this year’s theme of “Broadway Musicals” will pay recognition to the wisdom commonly found in these plays. From “You can change the world if you change your mind” (Kinky Boots), “Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise!” (Les Misérables) and “If you stand for nothing, Burr, what will you fall for?” (Hamilton), all who attend the event will leave inspired to foster the change they wish to see in their own backyards.

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 2020 GCC is exclusively open from October 15 through November 15, 2019 (5:00 PM).  To view how funding from the 2019 event impacted the community, we invite you to click here.

The GCC competition during the 2020 Winter Equestrian Festival at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center will offer free General Admission and will be held Saturday evening, February 1, 2020 at 6:00 PM. Free parking will be located at 13500 South Shore Blvd., Wellington, FL 33414, home to the Adequan Global Dressage Festival show grounds.

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

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.