NEW: These 25 local charities are in the running for part of $1.5 million

10:35 a.m. Monday, Dec. 4, 2017 Local
Mark Bellissimo speaks at the Charity Drawing for the Great Charity Challenge at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center in Wellington on Dec. 2. (Photo by Lois Spatz/Provided)

The Special Olympics, Busch Wildlife and Susan G. Komen South Florida are among two dozen charities that are a step closer to winning part of $1.5 million in the Wellington-based Great Charity Challenge.

The 24 Palm Beach County nonprofits were chosen at random Saturday night during the Holiday and Horses Grand Prix at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center, according to a news release. Those groups are in addition to the Wellington Public Schools PTA/PTO/PTSA, which is automatically entered each year.

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Equestrian mogul Mark Bellissimo, his wife Katherine and daughter Paige founded the event and were on hand Saturday as the charities’ names were read aloud. The Bellissimos started the fundraiser eight years ago to help local groups hit hard by the Great Recession, Mark Bellissimo said in an interview last week. 

So far, nearly $11 million has been distributed to 220 organizations through the Great Charity Challenge, according to the news release.

About 330 charities applied for the Great Charity Challenge, and more charities will be added to the list with random drawings during Winter Equestrian Festival events, plus two wild card teams chosen at the Great Charity Challenge finale.

That finale will be Feb. 3 during one of the Winter Equestrian Festival’s Saturday Night Lights events. It features a show-jumping showdown, where each charity is randomly assigned to an equestrian team. The winning charity takes home $150,000, and the charity in last place receives $15,000. 

Here is the list of 25 organizations so far taking part in the Great Charity Challenge, provided by the event:

For more information, go to