One of the most creative and entertaining charity events in Palm Beach County, the FTI Consulting Great Charity Challenge returns February 1 for its fifth year. Created by Katherine and Mark Bellissimo (of Winter Equestrian Festival fame) and their daughter, Paige, GCC is a Pro-Am show-jumping competition that brings together equestrian families, pro and amateur riders, and sponsors for a friendly competition. An expected purse of $1.75 million is at stake, all of which will be distributed to 34 Palm Beach County charities in front a raucous crowd under the lights of the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington.
The concept behind GCC, a relay-style jumping competition, is relatively simple: In early December, more than 200 qualifying charities—those that use at least 75 percent of their operating funds in Palm Beach County—entered a random drawing to be part of the event. Twenty-five were selected at WinterFest on November 30, while an additional seven were selected at the Trump Invitational on January 5. Two more wildcard teams will be selected during the opening ceremonies of the GCC on February 1. Each charity is assigned a team of riders—a world-class professional rider and two amateur/junior riders—who are sponsored by equestrian families from around town, and compete to represent their assigned charity in a series of jumping events in the competition.
The prize at GCC is truly amazing, as not a single team goes away empty-handed. Each team is vying for a percentage of $1.75 million prize money generated through team sponsorships, corporate and individual donors, and proceeds from ticket and VIP table sales. At the end of competition, the first-place rider claims $150,000 for his or her charity. Those in second through tenth places receive set prize amounts, while those in eleventh through thirty-fourth place receive prize money at a sliding scale. No charity leaves with less than $15,000. In just the past four years, FTI Consulting GCC has distributed more than $4.2 million to 90 Palm Beach Counties, directly impacting the community.
As a bonus to this year’s festivities, Grammy nominee Hunter Hayes will perform during GCC. The country crooner, who’s latest single “I Want Crazy” is up for Best Country Solo Performance Grammy, will perform hits for fans and riders alike.
- Gates open at 6 p.m. to the general public; the first rider will take the arena at 6:30 p.m.
- General admission is $35.
- There will be plenty of children’s activities at GCC’s carnival, including the newly installed Venetian carousel, games and a bounce house.
- For a peek at the 32 charities chosen as of now, click here.
- For more information, visit ftigreatcharitychallenge.com.