Dandelion Eatery Accepts $75,000 Prize As Winners of Inaugural Great Charity Challenge of the Carolinas at TIEC

Jul 5, 2016 - 1:57 PM
Dandelion Eatery Accepts $75,000 Prize As Winners of Inaugural Great Charity Challenge of the Carolinas at TIEC 
For Immediate ReleaseMill Spring, NC – July 3, 2016 – The first annual Great Charity Challenge of the Carolinas (GCCC) at Tryon International Equestrian Center (TIEC) concluded an incredibly successful evening, hosting 26 local charities and spotlighting their individual missions in front of an enthusiastic and passionate crowd of spectators at the George H. Morris Arena on Friday, July 1. Backed by team sponsor Specialty Concrete, Dandelion Eatery, located in Hendersonville, NC, took to the winners podium and collected a check worth $75,000, after strong performances by athletes Carly Dvorkin of Parkland, FL, and Catch Me Z, and Erynn Ballard of Tottenham, Ontario, aboard Elodie T, propelled them into first place.

The event distributed $300,000 to 26 charitable organizations selected at random throughout the 2015 season at TIEC, pulling from a six county radius including Polk County, NC, Rutherford County, NC, Henderson County, NC, Buncombe County, NC, Greenville County, SC, and Spartanburg County, SC. Team sponsors supported their paired charity along with two riders, as 26 competitors contested a course set at 1.15m and 12 more riders raced the clock around a 1.25m track.

Dandelion Eatery accepts the $75,000 check as winners of the inaugural Great Charity Challenge of the Carolinas with Katherine Bellissimo, Jason Hunsinger, Howard Dvorkin, Sharon Decker, Gwen Dvorkin, Carly Dvorkin, Cindy Mitchel, Erynn Ballard, Roger Smith, Jennifer Smith, Paige Bellissimo, Mark Bellissimo, alongside Laresa Griffin, Paige Stack of Dandelion Eatery (L-R).
The Spartanburg Humane Society finished in second place, earning a check for $50,000 thanks in part to the strong riding of Alexandra Desiderio of Chester, NJ, and David Blake of Wellington, FL, through the support of team sponsor Lisa Lourie.The Hope Chest for Women, sponsored by the Mercer family, hoisted a check for $20,000 for an official third place finish. Riders Kendra Martenfeld of Toronto, Ontario, and Aciende, alongside Andrew Bourns of Wellington, FL, and Carlotta, helped secure their finish with two speedy rounds.

Dandelion Eatery, an internship opportunity operated through Safelight, serves the community as a job-training program that prepares and empowers women who have survived domestic abuse by educating and instilling confidence through culinary art, as well as hospitality and food preparation services.

Rider Erynn Ballard navigated the track with ease, laying down the fastest time of the evening to secure the win for Dandelion Eatery. Ballard commented on the success of the inaugural event, stating, “I was blown away by how much money we were able to win for them. At first I thought that it was $75,000 for the whole event, and then I realized that that was just the winners portion, which I think is incredible.”

Erynn Ballard dashes to victory in the inaugural Great Charity Challenge of the Carolinas aboard Elodie T.
Ballard competed one of her younger mounts in the class and also coached a student who competed at the 1.15m height. The event, which has built up a positive and exciting reputation from the annual occurrence in Wellington, FL, each season, replicated the same energy and enthusiasm from riders and spectators.”This event really offers an atmosphere that you can’t duplicate. You have a huge crowd with music, and noise. It was great for her as she’s only seven and this was the first time that I decided to try her in a class like this,” said Ballard. “For a young horse you don’t get that very often and we had a student ride in the class and she has a fantastic experience.”

“My student has always said that it has been on her bucket list to compete in a Great Charity Challenge event and I’m so thrilled that we were able to participate here,” added Ballard.

The first round performance of Carly Dvorkin offered Ballard the opportunity to ride for the win, as Dvorkin’s clear and efficient round set the team up nicely for victory. Dvorkin, who has now participated in the Great Charity Challenge of the Carolinas, as well as the Great Charity Challenge, expressed her excitement for the winning charity, Dandelion Eatery, and what the competition means to her as a competitor.

“I felt like the event just was an incredible night as a whole and it was an amazing feeling to have helped Dandelion Eatery win,” she expressed. “Honestly though, the best part for me, was to see the representatives from Dandelion Eatery’s faces as they were smiling and crying in the presentation.”

Carly Dvorkin and Catch Me Z eye up a distance in the 1.15m portion of the evening.
“It was so meaningful to them and I’m so happy that I was able to contribute to that. I was really pleased with my horse and how it went around the course, but it’s an even more amazing feeling to help others while I’m doing something that I love,” she added.Dandelion Eatery has helped to influence and change the lives of women struggling to find their feet after suffering domestic abuse and violence, and the results of the program are inspiring, as interns find permanent jobs, and excel in many of the regions most prestigious restaurants and cafes after completion of their internship programs.

“This was an amazing event and we’re thrilled to have been able to participate,” said Director of Development Laresa Griffin, as tears of happiness streamed down her face. “What this means for Dandelion Eatery is that more victims of trauma will be able to get the help necessary in understanding and attaining the critical job skills they need to regain, or gain for the first time, to provide for themselves and their families.”

Both horse and rider competitors dressed following the super hero theme, which added an element of excitement and fun for both exhibitors and spectators. 
As an organization, Safeflight, which is the parent operation to Dandelion Eatery, utilizes the help of more than 100 dedicated volunteers, who continue to support and provide resources for abuse victims of all ages. Programs of Safeflight include a 24-hour crisis line, emergency shelter, emergency room advocacy, law enforcement accompaniment, counseling, case management, support group therapy, transitional housing, court advocacy, and job training.Dandelion Eatery provides a safe and educational atmosphere for victims of abuse looking to regain normalcy, and the intern program has a profound impact on the progress and development of key social and service skills that help individuals recover and succeed.

“Our interns gain self-confidence, customer service skills and are able to learn a new trade. It’s just a great way to get them out into the community after they finish the program,” she continued. “We have a lot of employers call us and ask for our interns and if they’re ready to come out into the work place yet. We’ll be able to provide more opportunities for interns, who will now be able to go through the program with this new funding.””This is heartwarming to me, first off all to even have been selected, and to be able to take home a incredibly generous sum of money that will be able to help these victims and help improve their lives,” Griffin added.

The first installment of this incredible event created an excitement that was palpable from the spectators, participants, and competitors, as well-deserving charities were recognized for their commitment to bettering the community.

Paige Bellissimo, co-founder of the Great Charity Challenge and Great Charity Challenge of the Carolinas expressed her gratitude and appreciation for all of those who participated in the event.

“This event provides an incredible platform to bring awareness and attention to charities operating in this region and I feel like we accomplished something truly special tonight,” smiled Bellissimo.”I believe this event will continue to grow and offer those participating the opportunity to learn more about the individuals and groups who dedicate themselves to bettering our community.”

For more information on the 2016 Great Charity Challenge of the Carolinas (GCCC) please visit www.tryon.com.

Final Results 2016 Great Charity Challenge of the Carolinas          
Team Sponsor
1. Dandelion Eatery
Specialty Concrete 
Carly Dvorkin
Erynn Ballard
2. The Spartanburg Humane Society
Lisa Lourie 
Alexandra Desiderio
David Blake
3. The Hope Chest for Women
The Mercer Family
Kendra Martenfeld
Andrew Bourns
4. Polk County Youth Football 
U.S. Precision 
Bryn Sadler
Colin Syquia
5. Hope Remains Youth Ranch
The Mitchell Family
Tyler Smith
Samantha Senft
6. Rutherford County Visual Arts Guild
Cleghorn Golf & Gun Club
Sarah Clifton Yandell
Taylor Land
7.  University of South Carolina Upstate Foundation
Hayley Iannotti
Alexandra Duval
8. Hospice of the Carolina Foothills
Kady Abrahamson
Andrew Welles
9. Lake Lure Classical Academy
Lodge at Lake Lure
Juan Andres Larrazabal
Paige Jardine
10. Buncombe County Schools Foundation
Bloom Business Jets
Phoebe Alwine
Emanuel Andrade
11. Heart of Horse Sense
Hollow Creek
Alexandra Cenci
Nicole Bellissimo
12. The Walker Foundation
The Bellissimo Family
Tanner Korotkin
Kristen Holwick
13.  Hidden Treasure Christian School
Camp Electric 
Hanna-Krista Norris
14. Henderson County Free Medical Clinic
Providence Homes 
Sarah Kerins
15.Tryon Little Theater
Jordyn Friedman
16. Rotary Club of Tryon Foundation
Clary Hood
Madeleine Stover
17. Rutherford Town Revitalization 
Odom Engineering
Taylor Land
18. Empowering Women Through Beauty, Inc. 
AEM Enterprises
Luis Larrazabal
19. Polk County School Foundation
Mainstreet Insurance Group
Lincoln Russell
20. A Child’s Haven
The Dvorkin Family
Olivia Notman
21. Alexander Youth Network
The Welles Family
Emma Scudder
22. Pearson’s Falls
Tryon Equine
Declan McGarry
23. Upstate Warrior Solution
Roger & Jennifer Smith
Katie Epes
24. Asheville Community Yoga
Tryon Resort Realty LLC
Kathleen Fritz
25. The Arts Partnership for Greater Spartanburg 
Palm Beach International Academy
Allison Smith 
26.  Hospice of Rutherfordton County
Wellington Equestrian Realty
Jennifer Pennebaker


Photo Credit ©Meg Banks/TIEC & ©LizCrawleyPhotography. These photos may only be used once in relation to this press release.

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