The 14th Annual Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments® at the Wellington International raised over $1.7 million dollars for Palm Beach County Non-Profit Organizations. As a corporate sponsor, Wellington Equestrian Realty assisted in underwriting the prize money that supported Bella’s Angels, a nonprofit that financially assists local children with life-long physical disabilities beyond what insurance covers.
“We are just so thankful that Wellington Equestrian Realty was a sponsor for the Great Charity Challenge and for Bella’s Angels. The funds that we raised are instrumental in helping the precious families we serve in our community. We are over the moon about the funds raised and how they will help children who have life-long physical disabilities.”Deborah Jaffe, Bella’s Angels Executive Director
The organization was founded in 2008 by a family whose daughter Bella was born with disabilities. Jaffe explained, “They really fell in that middle class sector where they made too much money to qualify for government assistance but didn’t have the money to diagnose or treat her out of pocket. Kerry Cavallo, Bella’s mother, is the founder of the Foundation, which was started for a hot minute to benefit Bella but quickly grew to help others.”
Over time the organization has helped around 35 families. Jaffe said, “The first year a family comes on board, we give them up to $10k and the second year up to $15k to spend on medical expenses. We don’t serve the masses, but for the families that we serve we make a huge difference. We’re funded through fundraisers, grant writing and individual donors.”
She said that the $20k that their team won at the Great Charity Challenge will make a huge difference to the families that currently benefit. “These are kids going to therapy five days a week and the insurance company might pay for 30 or 40 appointments per year. Because we’re so grassroots, we’ll subsidize anything insurance doesn’t pay for. Given the rarity of the children we serve, their medical team might be in Boston or Philadelphia or Miami; if they have to have surgery we’re paying for things like a hotel stay, an airline ticket for the parent, or a meal stipend. For some of these kids their therapist might say karate or gymnastics might be good for them to build their core muscles, so we’ll pay for ‘alternative therapies’. (She noted that about 75% of their families are involved in equine-assisted therapy). We’ll help with copays, purchasing equipment, or making a vehicle wheelchair accessible. We just bought a new wheelchair for a child, and we’ve paid to make bathrooms/showers wheelchair accessible.”
She pointed out that some of the children are on oxygen, and living in South Florida, if a hurricane comes through, a family might need to have a generator or stay in a hotel where the chance of losing electricity isn’t such high risk. “It’s unbelievable, the things we take for granted in life that these families have to think of.”
Jaffe said that funds from the Great Charity Challenge are making a huge difference in people’s lives. Based in Wellington, Bella’s Angels serves all of Palm Beach County, from Jupiter to Boca Raton, to West Palm to Wellington.
“We try to provide as much as we can so families can focus on their child – so they don’t have to choose between taking care of their child or putting food on the table,” she said. “We don’t focus on one particular disability, for example we have a child who is one of 400 people with a rare disorder. They were able to go to a conference and meet specialists and meet other families and it made a huge difference in their lives. We just want kids to be the best version of themselves, whatever that looks like.”
Another key component of their assistance is providing respite care, so that caregivers can get the necessary time and assistance to also care for themselves. Jaffe said that might be a babysitter so that parents can take care of their personal needs, like going to the doctor or getting some rest. For some families that might provide time to spend with their able-bodied children, who receive less attention because there is so much care involved with their disabled child.
“Between Wellington Equestrian Realty, Blue Hill Farm and the Great Charity Challenge, they have no idea the impact they are making on families’ lives in our community,” she said. “We are so grateful for this money, it makes a difference in the lives of people who so deserve it and so need it. All of the funds go to families directly, not to administrative costs or anything like that, but directly to the families we serve.”
She continued, “We feel beyond blessed and grateful to get to work with the most amazing donors who are not only generous and kind, but passionate about creating change in the community, and the riders whose excitement, creativity and determinism makes the event come to life. We look forward to sharing with you firsthand how the funding is indeed creating change in the community, for a full calendar year!”
How can you help?
Jaffe said this could be as simple as liking Bella’s Angels on social media, and using the hashtags #BellasAngels and #SpecialFriends when you post about the organization. Help can also look like donating an auction item or attending an event. If you want to get more involved, you can volunteer on the second Friday of every month for the “Community Respite Care Program” at St. Peters Methodist Church.
More information can be found at https://www.bellasangels.org