The annual Great Charity Challenge at WEF (Winter Equestrian Festival) not only raises millions of pounds for charity, it’s a great opportunity to spot some of the world’s leading riders dressed in an assortment of crazy fancy dress costumes.
This year Wellington International was transformed into candy world as riders and horses represented their favourite sweets and we saw everything from a rainbow-coated team of Skittles to the sparkling Milky Way riders and the pink hues of the Cotton Candy crew, which featured British Olympic showjumper Jessica Mendoza – winners of the best costume contest. The effort that has gone into these fancy dress costumes is simply astounding.
This year’s event, sponsored by Fidelity Investments, on 4 February, raised $1.7million to be distributed among local non-profit organisations and the goal of the evening was to inspire and empower others to get involved in their communities.
The Great Charity Challenge (GCC) fancy dress event always results in an exciting showjumping competition, too, with each team made up of three riders ranging from future stars to Olympians. The winning team from a field of 34 consisted of 15-year-old debutante Campbell Brown, Abby Funk, 17, and Emma Hechtman, 22, representing “Dylan’s Candy Bar” who rocketed home in a winning time of 91.622sec.
“I’m just so happy I got to be on a team, come here and have this much fun,” says Abby. “My horse was so good and I’m grateful for her and this event.”
“This $100,000 is a life-changing amount of money for our clinic,” adds Madison Schwarz from winning recipient Caridad Center, the largest free healthcare clinic in Florida.
Young British talent Grace Debney was part of the runner-up placed team, alongside Vivian Golden and Gabriella Curry, who earned $90,000 for their charity.
“I am in awe every year as to how much more excitement and support can surround the event,” says Anne Caroline Valtin, executive director of GCC fancy dress competition.
“Thanks to Wellington International’s commitment to covering all costs associated with the event, one hundred percent of the funds raised go straight back to work in our community, creating long-term impact. This is what makes the GCC unique and so impactful. We simply can’t thank our donors and sponsors enough for coming together to be the change each and every year.”
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