The Palm Beach International Equestrian Center turned into a field of hope and dreams during the $216,000 Palm Beach County Sports Commission Grand Prix CSI 4* to benefit local nonprofit organizations on Saturday, Dec. 3.
With more than 300 applications received for the chance to participate in the 2017 Great Charity Challenge (GCC), presented by Fidelity Investments, the excitement level was high to see whose names would get drawn out of the lottery drum. At stake: a chance to share the $1.5 million purse. To date, the event has distributed more than $9.2 million to 200 Palm Beach County charities.
A total of 27 charities were drawn throughout the evening’s festivities. Event founders Mark, Katherine and Paige Bellissimo were assisted by Wellington Mayor Anne Gerwig, Vice Mayor John McGovern and council members Michael Napoleone, Michael Drahos and Tanya Siskind, along with Palm Beach County Sports Commission Executive Director George Linley and GCC sponsors Dan Rosenbaum and his family, Lisa Lourie, Carlene Ziegler, Caroline Moran, Emanuel Andrade and representatives of Starwyn Farms.
The 27 charities selected on Saturday, Dec. 3 included: The Cancer Alliance of Help and Hope, the Children’s Home Society of Florida, the Equestrian Aid Foundation, Families First of Palm Beach County (Children’s Case Management Organization), the Farmworker Coordinating Council of Palm Beach County, Florence Fuller Child Development Centers, Genesis Assistance Dogs, the Gold Coast Down Syndrome Organization, Grandma’s Place, Helping Hands Assistance Program, Holy Ground Shelter for the Homeless, Horses Healing Hearts, Jeff Industries, the Junior League of Boca Raton, the Light House Cafe Ministries of the Glades, the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County, Nonprofits First, the Palm Beach Habilitation Center, Paws 4 Liberty, the Rotary Club of Wellington Foundation, the Soup Kitchen, the Step by Step Foundation, the Unicorn Children’s Foundation, Urban Youth Impact, Wellington Cares, the Wycliffe Charities Foundation and Wellington PTA/PTO/PTSA.
“The group of charities drawn tonight was the most diverse to date; it’s going to be inspiring to watch them put the funds directly to work here in the community,” GCC co-founder Paige Bellissimo said. “We have high hopes that this will be our most impactful GCC yet and are looking forward to working with these charities and organizations leading up to the event.”
Blending philanthropy and equestrian sports, the GCC is an exciting show jumping event that brings hope to Palm Beach County charities every year.
Future charity drawings will be held during the first weeks of the 2017 Winter Equestrian Festival, and the final two wild card teams will be drawn the night of the GCC for a total of 34 lucky charities.
Mark your calendars for the 2017 GCC to be held on Saturday, Feb. 4 at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center during WEF’s Saturday Night Lights series. The family friendly event offers free general admission and will feature this year’s event theme of “Animated Characters.”
For more information about the Great Charity Challenge, visit www.greatcharitychallenge.com.
ABOVE: Representatives of participating charities gather at the conclusion of the evening’s drawings at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.