Wellington, Fla. – Feb. 6, 2021 – Top riders to the rescue! The International Ring at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center welcomed 69 horse and rider duos who donned their capes for a superhero theme to compete in the 12th annual Great Charity Challenge (GCC), presented by Fidelity Investments® Saturday evening. The GCC, which disperses over $1 million in just one night to over 40 different Palm Beach County charities every year, directed a majority of the evening’s prize money to local organizations directly assisting those most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the competing riders took costume inspiration from comic books and famous movies, while others dressed up to represent their heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic. Garnering the win for the YWCA of Palm Beach County, Team “Sweeto,” comprised of Ashley Vogel, Lindsey Tomeu and Shane Sweetnam, sped to the top of the class on an impressive combined score of 91 seconds.
During the unique relay-style event, 23 teams took to their designated 7 obstacle course: 1.10m and 1.20m for the two amateur team members and the final 1.30m track for the professional. In the spirit of fun, riders blazed around the course decked out in full costume in hopes of winning big for their charity of choice. While all pre-selected charities walked away from the event as winners receiving $15,000, it was ultimately the camouflaged team of Vogel, Tomeu and Sweetnam masked as members of the United States Army who earned the $100,000 for YWCA of Palm Beach County charity following a nail-biting finish. In addition to taking home the purse for their charity, the team also took home the award for best turned out horses of the event.
Following closely in second were Daniel Coyle, Edie Wetzel and Charlotte McLaughlin who joined forces to form the “Uber Eats” team who were riding for Junior Achievement of the Beaches. Wrapping up the podium in third was Team “Powder Puff Girls” made up of Kiera Foster, Olivia Markman and Zayna Rizvi.
Since its inception in 2008, The Great Charity Challenge has distributed nearly $16 million to 256 charities. In hopes of making an even greater impact due to the extensive effects brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic the GCC partnered with United Way of Palm Beach County for the 2021 event. The organization is considered a hero within the community utilizing its response fund to provide locals with food, housing, education, medical care, and financial assistance.
Thanks to this strategic partnership, online donations were accepted for the first time aiding in raising even more funds than in previous years.
FROM THE WINNER’S CIRCLE
“Every year it is a great event. What WEF and the Great Charity Challenge does for the community and the charities is amazing. I am sure with the year we are in that it is hard to organize, but all these charities I am sure need the help more than ever. It is great that we could play our parts and give some organizations something to cheer about and give back to the community!”
“Every year this is a great event and it feels amazing to give back and give this money to these charities through something that we do for fun.”
“It’s a really great event. This is my first time participating in it and I had a lot of fun! It’s really great that we can help an organization like the YWCA.”
Shea Spencer, Chief Executive Officer of YWCA of Palm Beach County:
“We are elated. We have been live streaming all night and we are so thankful to everyone, the sponsors, the supporters, the riders, everyone who live streamed and especially to the Great Charity Challenge for putting it all together! We have been supporters and it is amazing to now be award recipients. We do have specific plans for the $100,000. We have an amazing new initiative called the Women’s Health Institute which really helps to target the disparities that women face in the health industry being both women, and women of color. We have our Child Developement Center that helps to provide free, quality childcare for low income families and so we are going to use the funds to continue to advance our mission to empower women, to eliminate racism and to promote peace, freedom and justice for everyone!”