Wellington, Florida – December 3, 2013 – This holiday season, 400 Palm Beach County charities were hoping for a miracle. Under the “Saturday Night Lights” at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC), the charitable community came out to Wellington Chamber of Commerce’s WinterFest and Equestrian Sport Productions’ (ESP) Holiday & Horses Show on November 30 for the chance to be picked as one of the 34 charities that will benefit from the 2014 FTI Consulting Great Charity Challenge Presented by Fidelity Investments® (FTI GCC).
The exciting pro-am show jumping event which will be held on February 1, 2014, at the PBIEC has raised $4.2 million for over 90 Palm Beach County charities over the past four years, becoming the largest single-day net charitable event in the state of Florida. Every dollar raised is distributed to the charities. This year’s fundraising target is $1.75 million, and with prizes ranging from $150,000 to $10,000, it ensures every charity is a winner.
This unparalleled event brings together over 34 equestrian families that each sponsor a team for $25,000. Each team is randomly assigned to compete for one of the 34 randomly selected charities. With additional donations from local families, businesses, sponsors, vendors, exhibitors and spectators (through ticket sales for the evening), the FTI GCC is on track to exceed last year’s $1.5 million fundraising.
PBIEC, home of the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival (FTI WEF), one of the largest and longest running horse shows in the world, donates the venue, its staff and infrastructure for this charitable event.
Each team also offers amateur riders the chance to compete side by side with their Olympic and world-class professional idols.
Cheers of excitement could be heard on Saturday night as ESP CEO Mark Bellissimo and his wife Katherine, along with community leaders, drew 24 charity names out of a hopper in front of a crowd of 4,000 spectators.
Mark Bellissimo, who started the FTI GCC with his daughter Paige, commented, “The FTI GCC is the signature event of our 12-week season. We measure the success not in dollars raised, but in the number of lives touched.”
Dennis Shaughnessy, Chairman of the Board of FTI Consulting, commented, “This is the best thing FTI does anywhere in the world. It not only sponsors a great horse event, but it helps thousands of people locally. We are delighted to be able to do it and delighted to see a turnout like this.”
“It is wonderful that a variety of charities which serve so many different groups can make a difference right here in our backyard. The event truly exemplifies the impact a group of dedicated philanthropic individuals can have in a community,” said FTI GCC Executive Director Anne Caroline Valtin.
Jodi Goldberg, President and Founder of Autism Blooms, was overjoyed when chosen. “I am beside myself right now,” she said, “We raise money for families to purchase private therapy. It means so much because families are desperately trying to save their child and bring them out of the dark. We believe every child can bloom with the proper therapies.” Candi Spitz, Vice President of Autism Blooms, noted, “We’re based in Wellington, so this money goes directly into the community.”
Danny Robertshaw of Danny and Ron’s Rescue commented, “This is such a wonderful event. To us it’s so meaningful because we’re approaching our 7,000th adoption. This helps us to be able to save more dogs. Last year we adopted 530 dogs here during the horse show circuit. We save dogs from animal shelters and save them from euthanasia. It’s a good paws up. We’re very honored.”
Team Sponsor Robert and Lisa Lourie of Spy Coast Farm were on hand for the festivities. Lisa Lourie commented, “We have the added benefit of our professional rider [Shane Sweetnam] being a member of the community so it’s extra special for us.” Robert Lourie stated of their support, “It connects to the community in a good way. They see that it’s not just about us and the horses, but it’s about us and the community we are a part of.”
Dr. Sandy Munoz, CEO of Children’s Healing Institute, stated, “We are over the moon. We serve 4,000 families each year and this is huge for us. To raise money in this economy has been difficult. When the economy suffers, we suffer. This is a blessing.”
Jim Brown of Wounded Warriors of South Florida said, “This is a thrill! We don’t need the lotto — we just hit it. We are humbled at the opportunity. We provide immediate financial support for disabled veterans. We provide support whether it is putting food on the table, furniture in the house or auto repair. In the last couple years it’s grown so fast we can’t keep up with it. Without us, these veterans would be in a sinking ship. Because of all the trauma, we have 15 to 20 service members every day commit suicide. Our efforts here when they come home are helping them out a lot.”
Wellington Chamber of Commerce President Victor Connor was touched by the spirit of the evening, “For me, I’m speechless and I’m never speechless,” he said. “Mark Bellissimo has done an unbelievable job of reaching out to the community. It’s a pleasure to have him here. He goes out to the schools, and he’s brought in the community like no one else. What was an exclusive club is now open to the public to enjoy.”
Future charity drawings will be held at the $125,000 Trump Invitational show jumping event at The Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach on January 5, 2014, and two wild card teams will be drawn the night of the FTI GCC on February 1, 2014. With the outpouring of support from the equestrian community, additional grants will also be made.
All the charity representatives and community families were treated to an evening of exciting show jumping as well as entertainment from The Voice’s Michaela Paige and Vanilla Ice. There was even a little magical snow, renewing hope in the Village of Wellington that miracles do happen.
Full Charities Drawn List:
PALM BEACH COUNTY
Boca Raton’s Promise- the Alliance for Youth
Boys and Girls Club of Palm Beach County
Children’s Foundation Equine Assisted Therapy
Children’s Healing Institute
Farmworker Coordinating Council of Palm Beach County
Foster and Adoptive Parent Association of Palm Beach County
Healing Horse Therapy Center
New Urban Community Development Corporation
Pediatric Oncology Support System (POST)
Restoration Bridge International
Seagull Industries for the Disabled
Speak Up for Kids
Spirit of Giving Network
The Arc of the Glades
The Unicorn Children’s Foundation
Urban Youth Impact
Big Dog Ranch
Blooming with Autism
Danny and Ron’s Rescue
Equestrian Aid Foundation
Polo Players Support Group
Wellington PTO/PTA/PTSA Schools (annual recipient)
For more information please visit www.equestriansport.com and www.ftigreatcharitychallenge.com.
About the FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival
The 2014 FTI Consulting Winter Equestrian Festival has 12 weeks of top competition running from January 8 through March 30. The FTI WEF is run by Equestrian Sport Productions, LLC, and Wellington Equestrian Partners and held at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center. All 12 shows are “AA” rated and Jumper Rated 6, and more than $8 million in prize money will be awarded.
About FTI Consulting, Inc.
FTI Consulting, Inc. is a global business advisory firm dedicated to helping organizations protect and enhance enterprise value in an increasingly complex legal, regulatory and economic environment. With more than 4,000 employees located in 24 countries, FTI Consulting professionals work closely with clients to anticipate, illuminate and overcome complex business challenges in areas such as investigations, litigation, mergers and acquisitions, regulatory issues, reputation management, strategic communications and restructuring. The company generated $1.58 billion in revenues during fiscal year 2012. For more information, visit www.fticonsulting.com and connect with us on Twitter (@FTIConsulting), Facebook, and LinkedIn.
About Fidelity Investments
Fidelity Investments is one of the world’s largest providers of financial services, with assets under administration of $4.5 trillion, including managed assets of $1.9 trillion, as of October 31, 2013. Founded in 1946, the firm is a leading provider of investment management, retirement planning, portfolio guidance, brokerage, benefits outsourcing and many other financial products and services to more than 20 million individuals and institutions, as well as through 5,000 financial intermediary firms. For more information about Fidelity Investments, visit www.fidelity.com.
Photos © ManciniPhotos
Please visit www.equestriansport.com or call 561-793-5867 for more information.