Imagination Leads The Way For Local Charities At 2017 Great Charity Challenge

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 nonprofit 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. 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-am relay show jumping competition. Thirty-four of these randomly drawn charities will not have to wake up from their dreams on Saturday, Feb. 4 to receive a share of the $1.5 million purse.

The application opened on Oct. 15, and will remain active through 5 p.m. on Nov. 15, via All nonprofit organizations in Palm Beach County are invited to apply and try their good fortune.

The Great Charity Challenge, 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 nonprofits in Palm Beach County over the last seven years.

What makes this event truly unique is the fact that 100 percent of the money raised gets distributed to local nonprofits. 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 event was made even more fun for those participating and watching by incorporating themes. Riders dressed up in costumes and decked out their horses to the theme of “Superheroes” and “Fairy Tales.” The theme for the 2017 event will be “Animated Movies.”

“This eighth year is a milestone for the Great Charity Challenge. As of Feb. 4, we will have officially surpassed the $10 million donation mark,” Mark Bellissimo said. “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 agreed. “This unique event allows us to raise awareness of the diverse charitable organizations throughout the community with 100 percent of the funds distributed to local charities,” she said. “The event is a dream-come-true to the heroes that lead these deserving nonprofits. 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, have them visit for full application details and information. The drawing for the participating 34 charities will be held in December 2016.