Showjumpers earn $2.5m for charity in single competition

A team of riders enters the arena during the FTI GCC.
A team of riders enters the arena during the FTI GCC. © Lexey Hall

Florida charities benefited by more than $US2.5 million thanks to the FTI Consulting Great Charity Challenge teams competition at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center at the weekend.

The event smashed a fundraising record for the event and topped last year’s amount of $1.5 million. All of the proceeds are distributed to Palm Beach County charities, with the equestrian team riding on behalf of Speak Up For Kids earning the top prize of $150,000. The team included 10-time Olympian Ian Millar, with amateur riders Kelly Soleau and Emily Kinch.

Hunter Hayes congratulates his Musicares team with Mark Bellissimo at the FTI GCC.
Hunter Hayes congratulates his Musicares team with Mark Bellissimo at the FTI GCC. © Lexey Hall

“This amount is double what we typically raise in an entire year,” said Speak Up For Kids treasurer Gregg Weiss. “It’s going to go a long way to help many, many children in our area.”

Following the awards ceremony, four-time Grammy nominee and country music superstar Hunter Hayes dazzled the crowd with a concert, which included one never-before-heard song that will be featured on his upcoming tour and album.

“I love being a part of an event that does so much good for so many non-profits,” said Hayes, whose charity of choice, MusiCares, came in third place and received a $125,000 donation. “The sheer number of charities and important causes that receive funding through the FTI Consulting Great Charity Challenge is unmatched, and it’s very meaningful to me to be able to add music and entertainment to the event.”

The MusiCares team was represented by Olympic Brazilian rider Doda de Miranda along with Paige Bellissimo and Alex Crown in the show ring, proudly sponsored by families in the dressage community.

“This unique and entertaining event was created to help community charities who are struggling to raise money during these difficult financial times get the resources they need to fulfill their important missions,” said Mark Bellissimo, who founded the event in 2010 with his daughter, Paige. Since then, it has raised nearly $6.4 million.

“The Wellington Equestrian Community stepped up in a big way to support this effort, and I am confident these grants will touch tens of thousands of lives over the next few months,” Bellissimo said.

The tagline for this year’s event was ‘Giving Inspires Giving,’ and donors demonstrated unprecedented generosity.

“Elizabeth Freed’s unsolicited gift of $50,000 from her family foundation pushed the fundraising over the $2 million level,” said FTI GCC Executive Director Anne Caroline Valtin. “Dan and Ellen Crown matched their prize money for Wounded Warriors of South Florida and added $25,500 to the totals. Eight equestrian families each made an additional $25,000 donation towards anti-bullying efforts in Palm Beach County.”

Among those donors were Roger Smith, Bruce Duchossois, Howard Dvorkin, Gregg Hymowitz, Diana Mercer, Susan Goldstein, and Suhail Rizvi, along with the Bellissimo family. The initiative was inspired by Hunter Hayes’ newly released anti-bullying anthem, Invisible.

“Together with a $100,000 grant from the FTI GCC, we will soon be launching a minimum of a $300,000 initiative towards anti-bullying efforts in Palm Beach County,” Bellissimo said. “Cyber bullying is a national epidemic that is destroying the confidence of our children, and at times even contributing to suicide. An effort must be mounted to reverse these trends.”

This year, more than 400 local charities applied for a chance to be one of the 34 lucky participants in the competition – all of which were guaranteed a minimum prize of $15,000. Thirty-two charities were selected by random drawing before Saturday’s event while two wild cards, Take Stock in Children and Wayside House Inc., were drawn on site. There was $175,000 in grant money handed out to more than 15 local non-profits and little league sports teams via random drawings during Saturday night’s competition.

“Almost 50 local groups will walk away from the FTI GCC with thousands of dollars, and 100% of that money stays right here in Palm Beach County,” said Dennis Shaughnessy, Retired Executive Chairman of the Board of FTI Consulting. “I can’t think of another event that has such a far-reaching positive influence, and I’m proud that my company was able to contribute significantly to this year’s allocations.”

FTI Consulting also sponsored a $50,000 Online Voting Challenge that allowed the supporters of each charity to vote for them in the two weeks leading up to the FTI GCC. The top three fan favorite charities were awarded a donation. The winners were: first place: Big Dog Ranch Rescue ($25,000), second place: Horse Healing Therapy Center ($12,500), third place: Danny and Ron’s Rescue ($12,500).


2014 FTI Consulting Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments® Final Results and Grant Allocations

1 Speak Up for Kids Lothlorien Bass, Bolfo, Newlands and Rowland $150,000
2 Wellington PTO/PTA/PTSA Entrust (Rose Hill Farm) Rosenbaum Mollengarden PLLC $125,000
3 Musicares – Hunter Hayes Dressage Team and Rizvi Family Carol Cohen, Diamante Farms, Havensafe Farm, Michael Collins, Mike Davis, Rose Peslar (Everglades Dressage), Tim Dutta Tuny Paige and the Van Kampen Foundation $112,500
4 Lighthouse for the Blind Double “C” Farm (Creel Family) Fumero Law Group $100,000
5 Seagull Industries for the Disabled Trelawny Farm Gold Coast Feed & Supply $80,000
6 Adopt-A-Family of the Palm Beaches, Inc. Bellissimo Family Sexton Engineering $75,000
7 Connor Moran Children’s Cancer Foundation Newstead Farm (Firestone) Marcum LLP $65,000
8 HomeSafe Postage Stamp Farm The Bainbridge Companies $60,000
9 The Alliance for Eating Disorders Greenriver (Roger and Jennifer Smith) Equine Tack and Nutritionals $50,000
10 Foster and Adoptive Parent Association of Palm Beach County G&C Farm (Mirabal Family) Rolex $40,000
11 Wellington Cares Double H Farm Trump International $30,000
12 The Children’s Foundation Equine Assisted Therapy Starwyn Farm (Goldstein Family) Gary Czajkowski $26,500
13 Equestrian Aid Foundation Pasmore Stables Wellington Equestrian Realty $26,000
14 Wounded Warriors Crown Family Jamaica Tent $25,500
15 Women’s Circle Ashland Stables (Fleishhacker Family) Engel & Völkers $25,000
16 Farmworker Coordinating Council of Palm Beach County Monika and John Preston and Spy Coast Farm Enterprise Rental Cars $24,500
17 Blooming with Autism Boyer/Van Kampen Foundation Bank of America $24,000
18 Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League of the Palm Beaches, Inc. Kadley Farm (Gierkink Family) Wrenwood Farm $23,500
19 Wayside House, Inc. Pine Hollow Farm (Dvorkin Family) ESI $23,000
20 Restoration Bridge International Smith and Bloomberg Families Palm Beach Illustrated $22,500
21 Take Stock in Children Bruce Duchossois Salamander Farm $22,000
22 Danny and Ron’s Rescue Tequestrian Farms (Tisbo Family) Pegasus Builders $21,500
23 The Children Healing Institute JKG Farm Fidelity Investments® $21,000
24 New Urban Community Development Corporation Burrows, Kalman and Pin Oak W Development $20,500
25 Palm Beach School for Autism Goshen Hill Ingram & Raynes $20,000
26 Spirit of Giving Network Fair Play Farm (Kasowitz Family) FTI Consulting $19,500
27 Big Dog Ranch Brushwood Stables Palm Beach Equine Clinic $19,000
28 Boca Raton’s Promise- the Alliance for Youth Cynthia Sulzberger and Steven Green Dever Golf Cars $18,500
29 Boys and Girls Club of Palm Beach County Patten Family Chronicle of the Horse $18,000
30 Healing Horse Therapy Center Further Lane Farm Jones Awnings and Canvas, Inc. $17,500
31 The Unicorn Children’s Foundation Louisburg Farm and AAA Equestrian Neil Hirsch $17,000
32 Urban Youth Impact Mershad Team 2 Suncast® $16,500
33 Pediatric Oncology Support Team (POST) Stateside Farm (Goddard Family) Galle Law Group $16,000
34 The Arc of the Glades Equinimity Intrepid Electric $15,500
35 Polo Players Support Group Mershad Team 1 Hollow Creek Farm $15,000




American Association of Caregiving Youth $5,000
Caridad Center, Inc. $5,000
Foundcare, Inc. $10,000
Friends of Fisher House $5,000
Friends of Veterans, Inc. $5,000
Gulfstream Goodwill Industries $10,000
Gulstream Goodwill Academies $10,000
Habitat for Humanity of South Palm Beach County $10,000
Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies of P. B. County $5,000
Musicares $12,500
Spirit Award Contest- presented by the Mershad Family $5,000
The Center for Family Services $10,000
Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center $10,000
Wounded Warriors- Matched by the Crown Family $25,500



Wellington Colts Travel Baseball $4,000
Wellington Wave Travel Soccer $7,000
Wellington Wolves Travel Basketball $3,000
Wellington Wrestling Club $6,000
Western Communities Football League $5,000



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