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 Steve Hearst and California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom will serve as Honorary Co-Chairs of the 13th Annual Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle Presented by Pepsi-Cola.

Journalist and Author Maria Shriver will serve as Honorary Chair Emeritus. 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 10.

“I take great pride and pleasure welcoming the Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle, presented by Pepsi-Cola back to Hearst Ranch. For the past 12 years, I have acted as the event’s Honorary Host. In this, our 13th season, I am honored to serve as the Honorary Co-Chair for this year’s festivities, said Steve Hearst. “The Hearst Corporation and I maintain an overwhelming sense of community as we welcome Best Buddies to the Ranch again this year. We greatly enjoy our partnership with Best Buddies International and we salute and celebrate all of their milestones and achievements. Best Buddies International’s global volunteer efforts exemplify humanity, unity and dignity, making a positive difference in communities around the world, embodying the true meaning of the word Friendship. I am pleased that year after year, the Ranch has proven to be the perfect venue for this spectacular event. Let’s make this the best and most successful year yet.”

The Challenge kicks-off with a Mountain Bike Challenge on Friday, September 9 at the Quail Lodge Resort & Golf Club in Carmel, CA. 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 attend opening ceremonies, in which guests will enjoy food, cocktails and other refreshments. The reception will include musical performances by The Solero Brothers and a special duet with Kevin McHale and Marlana VanHoose, in addition to a small program led by Founder and Chairman, Best Buddies International, Anthony K. Shriver, designed to celebrate key supporters and Best Buddies programs.

On Saturday, September 10, hundreds of cyclists will take to the starting line at Quail Lodge Resort & 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. The Hearst Castle Challenge will be capped off by a barbeque, awards ceremony and live concert by the legendary Beach Boys.

Several celebrity supporters, professional athletes and notable guests are scheduled to attend the Challenge, including: Actresses Jamie Brewer from American Horror Story, Lauren Potter from Glee and Mimi Rogers; Actors Boris Kodjoe and Benito Martinez; 2016 Miss California USA Nadia Mejia and 2016 Miss Teen California USA Athenna Crosby; and a host of professional cyclists.

Challenge sponsors include: Presenting Sponsor, Pepsi-Cola; The Hearst Corporation; Hublot; Chobani; E. & J. Gallo Winery; Silicon Valley Bank; 20th Century Fox; Carnival Cruise Line; Chevron; Cold Stone Creamery; First Solar; The GEO Group Foundation; Natixis Global Asset Management; Pacific Gas & Electric; Pilot Freight Services; Testa Catering, Official Caterer of the Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle; Cannondale, Official Bike Sponsor; and the San Francisco Chronicle.

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: The Honorable Kevin de León, California Senate President Pro Tempore; The Honorable Jean Fuller, California State Senator; The Honorable Kevin Johnson, Mayor of Sacramento; The Honorable Edwin M. Lee, Mayor of San Francisco; The Honorable Chad Mayes, California Assembly Republican Leader; The Honorable Kevin Mullin, California Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore; The Honorable Jeff Stone, California State Senator; and The Honorable Tom Torlakson, Superintendent of Public Instruction.

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