Wellington – February 5, 2024 – The equestrian community and supporters at large unite every year to help the Great Charity Challenge sponsored by Fidelity Investments® (GCC) make a significant positive impact for non-profit organizations in Palm Beach County. In its 15th year, GCC sponsors and donors exceeded expectations, achieving a record-breaking goal of raising over $2 million. When a community unites, it creates a collective strength that can overcome challenges, achieve common goals, and foster a sense of shared responsibility. 15 years in the making, the GCC has done all of this and more, thanks to the unwavering generosity and support of the community, and longtime sponsors and donors.
This year’s theme, ‘your favorite TV shows,’ is a testament of time, and so is that of the impact of the event. On the evening of Saturday, February 3, 2024, the entire community came together to celebrate the legacy of the GCC. 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 3 riders ranging from the young futures of the sport to top Olympians. Riders put it all on the line that night, racing to bring funds and hope to their randomly 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+ non-profit organizations. Each year, the team at Wellington International is stunned by the continued generosity and growth of those inspired to get involved and make a difference.
Children and their pets, as part of this year’s Pet Parade and Costume Contest, were also an important part of the movement. 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 and sponsors, 34 organizations benefitted from the main event and an additional 30+ grants were distributed to worthy non-profits. The Doyle Family Foundation Volunteer Initiative promoted volunteerism by awarding fourteen $4,000 grants to organizations whose volunteers vouched on their behalf. The initiative gained incredible traction this year, inspiring us to award additional grants to those organizations with a plethora of submissions, as well as to those who fundraised on behalf of their organizations.
Partnerships, such as the one between the GCC and United Way, are what truly make this event a reality. Along with the resources to make donations simple, United Way also contributed manpower for this year’s event, speaking to the importance of taking action, as well as donating.
“We also emphasized the importance of partnerships by bringing back our Conversations & Connections Roundtable event this year. We awarded grants to organizations that made deliberate connections and started new projects by joining forces and addressing common needs” explained Kelly Arani, Event and Marketing Director. “Bringing back the roundtable event was a great way for selected organizations to meet face to face before the night of the event, and network on behalf of the populations they serve,” added Arani. The Conversations & Connections event was held on January 9th, 2024, with the first 30 selected organizations.
The winning team of riders, David O’Brien, Lillian O’Brien, and Stephanie Garrett, supported by team sponsor Postage Stamp Farm Foundation and corporate sponsor Lugano Diamonds, came in 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 local non-profit 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, Inc., 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 33rd with a minimum of $15,250, ensuring that everyone organization was a winner.
“We are so grateful for this honor,” said St. John, representing Nat King Cole Generation Hope, Inc. in their first appearance as a selected GCC charity. “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. Thank you to these amazing riders and thank you for this unforgettable night.”
After helping her team to victory, Garrett noted, “I know in my middle and high school experience, the arts have been a huge aspect in my school life so being able to support a charity in this way is amazing and to be able to combine the horses with that is really special. It’s so great to even be competing here tonight and helping out such an important charity.”