Best Buddies International, a nonprofit dedicated to creating opportunities for friendship, employment and leadership training for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), is pleased to announce that journalist and activist Maria Shriver and Lieutenant Governor of California Gavin Newsom will return as Honorary Co-Chairs of the 12th Annual Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle.

More than 2,000 people are expected to participate in the Challenge – a charity walk, run and ride to benefit Best Buddies International – on September 12.

“In my 12th and final year as the Chair of the Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle, I am so incredibly proud of what we’ve accomplished and excited to continue the spirit of inclusion and friendship that makes Best Buddies so incredible,” said Maria Shriver. "I took the role of chairperson as First Lady and six years ago, we started our own team of individual people joined together in wanting to make an impact … which we have certainly achieved. Together, we have raised $12 million for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), with over $2 million raised solely by Team Maria — aka “the people’s team.” It has been an extraordinary journey, and while I’ll always be involved, I’m excited to let someone else infuse their own energy, enthusiasm and new ideas into this phenomenal ride next year. But before then, let’s make this year the best one yet! Let’s ride like the wind and ride forward together!"

The Challenge kicks-off with an Inaugural Mountain Bike Experience on Friday, September 11. Participants will have the chance to ride a private course on the 180 acre network of off-road trails. The day caps off with the Official Opening Ceremonies of the Best Buddies Challenge. Participants, VIPs, sponsors and guests are invited to join at the first ever opening ceremonies, in which guests will enjoy food, cocktails and other refreshments. The reception will conclude with a live musical performance and a special program designed to celebrate key supporters and Best Buddies programs, led by Best Buddies International’s Founder and Chairman, Anthony K. Shriver and his sister, honorary event co-chair, Maria Shriver.

On Saturday, September 12, hundreds of cyclists will take to the starting line at Quail Lodge Golf Club for the 100-mile ride down the majestic Pacific Coast Highway from Carmel to San Simeon. The Challenge, which is open to people of all ages and abilities and is designed to showcase the Best Buddies mission in action, also features alternative 62, 30 and 15-mile cycling routes, as well as the Carl Lewis Challenge, a 5K run/walk led by the Olympic gold-medalist himself.

Several other celebrities, professional athletes and special guests are also expected to participate in the Challenge including: Actor Rob Lowe; Supermodel Cindy Crawford; WWE Total Divas Nikki Bella and Brie Bella; Olympic Gold Medalist Carl Lewis; and Actress and Best Buddies Global Ambassador Lauren Potter.

The Challenge will be capped off by a barbecue, awards ceremony and live concert by The Pointer Sisters.

Challenge sponsors include: The Hearst Corporation; Hublot; Chevron; Pepsi-Cola Company; E. & J. Gallo Winery; 20th Century Fox; The Bay Club; Carnival Cruise Line; Pacific Gas & Electric; Natixis Global Asset Management; Southern Wine & Spirits; Testa Catering, Official Caterer of the Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle; FIJI Water, Official Water of Best Buddies; Pilot Freight Services; Cannondale, Official Bike Sponsor; Goorin Bros; Niche Media, Premiere Magazine Sponsor of Best Buddies; Bicycling Magazine; San Francisco Chronicle; Getty Images, Official Photography Sponsor of Best Buddies; and Silicon Valley Bank.

Additionally, Best Buddies is receiving the support of the Honorary Ambassador Committee, whose members are helping to promote not only the event, but also inclusion for individuals with disabilities. Committee members include: California Speaker of the Assembly Toni G. Atkins; California State Senator Anthony Cannella; Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti; Mayor of Sacramento Kevin Johnson; Mayor of San Francisco Ed Lee; California State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon; and California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.

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