NEW: Great Charity Challenge to draw finalists at free event Saturday

Twenty-four Palm Beach County charities will be selected Saturday night to enter the running for part of $1.5 million on the table with the eighth annual Great Charity Challenge.

This year’s Charity Drawing -- where the field of 330 local charities that applied will be narrowed to the final two dozen -- takes place during the Holiday and Horses Grand Prix at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, 14440 Pierson Road, Wellington.

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Charities will be randomly selected at two times during the night, with the first round at 6:10 p.m. and the second round at 7:15 p.m. 

General admission and parking are free, with carousel rides, face painting, a visit from Santa and more. 

READ: When will Wellington, Royal Palm light their Christmas trees?

To date, the Great Charity Challenge has raised nearly $11 million for more than 200 charities in Palm Beach County. Event founder and equestrian mogul Mark Bellissimo said he founded the fundraiser with his daughter eight years ago as they saw the effects the Great Recession was having on local nonprofits. 

“We opened up and created this event that was open to just Palm Beach County charities,” he said. 

READ: Annual holiday toy drive kicks off in Wellington

The Great Charity Challenge finale is Feb. 3. Each of the 24 charities selected Saturday night will be randomly assigned to a show jumping team. While the winning team will net $150,000, those who don’t win still go home with at least $15,000, Bellissimo said.

“This is by far our most meaningful and important event,” he added. 

For more information about the Charity Drawing or the Great Charity Challenge, go to

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