For Immediate Release
Wellington, FL – December 1, 2015 – Once upon a time, and a very good time it was for Palm Beach County non-profit organizations,the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC), turned into a field of hope and dreams. With a record crowd on Saturday, November 28, 2015, families enjoyed the Wellington Chamber of Commerce’s Winterfest featuring musical performances by Vanilla Ice, exciting show jumping, and a great night of philanthropy where over 300 Palm Beach County charities applied for the chance to participate in the 2016 Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments® (GCC). To date, the event has distributed more than $7.5 million to 150 plus Palm Beach County Charities.
The excitement level was high as 26 lucky charities were randomly drawn throughout the evening’s festivities. Event Founders, Mark Bellissimo along with his wife Katherine and daughter Paige, were assisted by Vanilla Ice, Wellington Mayor Margolis, Councilwoman Anne Gerwig, Michael Drahos, Michael Stone (President of Equestrian Sport Productions), Mr. Hasen (1943 WWII Veteran), Stephanie Glavin (Bank of America Vice President, Palm Beach County Market Manager) and team sponsors: Gwen Dvorkin, the Crown Family and the Mershad Family.
|The Crown and Mershad families help draw lucky charities for the 2016 GCC.
Photo © Meg Banks/ESP
Mark Bellissimo commented, “The GCC has truly become the signature event of our 12-week season. It is rare that you get the opportunity to touch so many lives in such a unique way. We hope that the event will become the legacy of our partnership and this facility.”
The GCC is an exciting pro-am show jumping event that brings together over 34 equestrian families and companies that each sponsor a team for $25,000 and $10,000 respectively. Each team is randomly assigned to compete for one of the 34 randomly selected charities and offers 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 2016 GCC is on track to fundraise and distribute $1.5 million in Palm Beach County. Prize money for these lucky charities will range from $150,000 to $15,000, to ensure that every charity is a winner.
PBIEC is also home to the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF), which will run from January 13 to April 3, 2016, and is the largest and longest running horse show in the world. The PBIEC operating organization, Equestrian Sport Productions, donates the venue, its staff and infrastructure for this charitable event.
|Families enjoyed a variety of activities at Winterfest at PBIEC, including “ice skating.”
Photo © Meg Banks/ESP.
Mark your calendars for the 2016 GCC to be held on Saturday, February 6, 2016, at the PBIEC during WEF’s “Saturday Night Lights” series. This family friendly event offers free general admission and will feature this year’s theme: Fairy Tale. Thirty-four of these lucky charities will depend on their Fairy Godmothers to receive a share of the $1.5 million dollar purse. All children are invited to attend dressed as their favorite Fairy Tale characters.
Paige Bellissimo, co-founder of the GCC, commented, “The 2016 GCC theme will truly showcase the spirit of the event. We wanted to create something different, where everyone had the opportunity to their ‘happily ever after.’ Over 34 charities will depend on their riders, team, and corporate sponsors to act as their Fairy Godmothers, all competing towards a share of the $1.5 million purse.”
|Katherine, Mark and Paige Bellissimo. Photo © Meg Banks/ESP.|
Future charity drawings will be held at the Trump Invitational show jumping event at The Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach on Sunday, January 3, 2016, and the final two wild card teams will be drawn the night of the GCC on Saturday, February 6, 2016.
Charities Drawn to Date:
Animal Rescue Force of South Florida
Back to Basics
Big Dog Ranch Rescue
Blue Sky Foundation
Center for Family Services of Palm Beach County
Christopher Aguirre Memorial Foundation
Danny & Ron’s Rescue
Friends of Foster Children
George Snow Scholarship Foundation
Gulfstream Goodwill Academies
Habitat for Humanity South Palm Beach County
Junior League of the Palm Beaches
Kids Cancer Foundation
Palm Beach County Food Bank
The Children’s Healing Institute
The Glades Initiative
The Homeless Coalition of Palm Beach County
Urban League of Palm Beach County
Villages of Hope
Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center
Wycliffe Charities Foundation
YWCA of Palm Beach County
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