The equestrian community and supporters united once again to help the Great Charity Challenge, sponsored by Fidelity Investments, make a significant positive impact for nonprofit organizations in Palm Beach County on Saturday, Feb. 3.
In its 15th year, GCC sponsors and donors exceeded expectations, achieving a record-breaking goal of raising more than $2 million. A total of 34 teams were dressed representing their favorite TV shows in the International Ring of Wellington International, for an exciting show jumping event that combines equestrian sports and philanthropy. Each team was made up of three riders ranging from the young future of the sport to top Olympians. Riders put it all on the line, racing to bring funds and hope to their paired organizations.
Catalyzing change and amplifying impact over the last 15 years, the GCC has now reached a new milestone, having raised and distributed more than $20 million to 300-plus nonprofit organizations.
Children and their pets, as part of this year’s Pet Parade and Costume Contest, were also an important part of the event. Thanks to matching sponsor Artemis Farm, and title sponsor the Postage Stamp Farm Foundation, $55,000 was distributed to 10 pre-selected organizations.
Thanks to returning supporters and new partners, 34 organizations benefited from the main event and an additional 30-plus grants were distributed to worthy nonprofits. The Doyle Family Foundation Volunteer Initiative promoted volunteerism by awarding 14 $4,000 grants to organizations whose volunteers vouched on their behalf.
The winning team of riders were David O’Brien, Lillian O’Brien and Stephanie Garrett, supported by team sponsor Postage Stamp Farm Foundation and corporate sponsor Lugano Diamonds. They came into the ring representing “The Golden Girls” and finished with the fastest cumulative time. Their speed and teamwork paid off big for Nat King Cole Generation Hope Inc., a nonprofit organization that provides music education for children with the greatest need by cultivating opportunities and funding programs for instruction, mentoring and resources.
On behalf of Nat King Cole Generation Hope, Timolin Cole-Augustus and Shanna St. John accepted the top prize of $100,000. The sliding scale for the balance of the proceeds went down to a minimum of $15,250, ensuring that every organization was a winner.
“We are so grateful for this honor,” St. John said. “Music is the universal connector; it binds us all, and we are so happy that we are able to continue doing what we do which is to give children the opportunity to experience this magical creative form of expression. These people are just wonderful, and this money is going to make such a difference in the lives of children in our community.”
Coming in second place was the team for the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Palm Beach County, sponsored by Spy Coast and Preston and corporate sponsor Woz Wellness.
The team of Collin, Olivia and Shane Sweetnam earned $90,000 for their charity. YWCA of Palm Beach County finished third and won $80,000 thanks to the team from Forget Me Not Farm and corporate sponsor the Crown Family.
For more information about the Great Charity Challenge, visit www.greatcharitychallenge.com.