The 16th Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle presented by Pepsi-Cola raised $4 million for Best Buddies programs dedicated to creating opportunities for friendship, employment, leadership development, and inclusive living for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

The event was co-chaired by Governor of California Gavin Newsom and Steve Hearst. Carl Guardino, one of Silicon Valley’s most distinguished business and community leaders, served as the 2019 Event Chair. Nearly 2,000 people participated in the Challenge — a charity bike ride down the majestic Pacific Coast Highway.

This year’s Challenge kicked-off with the Official Opening Ceremony of the Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle presented by Pepsi-Cola on Friday, September 6 at the Quail Lodge Resort & Golf Club in Carmel, CA. Participants, VIPs, sponsors, and guests in attendance celebrated Best Buddies programs and key supporters with musical performances and a program hosted by Best Buddies International Founder, Chairman & CEO Anthony K. Shriver, and Journalist/Author Maria Shriver. During the event, Best Buddies honored Donna Lucas, Chief Executive Officer and President of Lucas Public Affairs, with the 2019 Spirit of Friendship Award. This is Best Buddies’ highest accolade presented to individuals who have shown great leadership, generosity and spirit in supporting the Best Buddies mission of one-to-one friendship, integrated employment and leadership development for people with IDD.

California Governor Gavin Newsom also attended the Official Opening Ceremony and spoke about the power of inclusion and the important work that Best Buddies is doing within the state of California and across the United States.

“It’s a privilege to serve as Honorary Co-Chair of the Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle for the ninth year. Best Buddies’ dedication to making our schools, workplaces, and communities more inclusive for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities is inspiring to all Californians,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom. “The amazing work of Best Buddies is an example of how we all benefit when society provides opportunities to those who are often overlooked or forgotten. It is an honor to showcase and support their mission.”

Saturday’s events began bright and early at the Carnival Cruise Line start line at Quail Lodge Resort & Golf Club as cyclists prepared to ride down the scenic Pacific Coast Highway. The Challenge also featured alternative 60, 30 and 15-mile cycling routes, as well as a 5K run/walk. Professional cyclists George Hincapie and Christian Vande Velde, both riding on Team Hublot, led the pack down the iconic PCH to the finish line.

The event continued on Honorary Co-Chair Steve Hearst’s ranch with a barbeque and award ceremony that celebrated all of the day’s accomplishments. The celebration kicked off with a special screening of the trailer for the hit-film Peanut Butter Falcon, and included an appearance by the film’s directors Michael Schwartz, Tyler Nilson and lead actor Zack Gottsagen. Other memorable moments from the evening included a musical performance by Best Buddies Ambassador and singer Bret Fleming and a powerful speech from Best Buddies Ambassador Jada Thompson who spoke about the organization’s impact on her life.

The Hearst Ranch barbeque, sponsored by E. & J. Gallo Winery, concluded with a lively KC and The Sunshine Band performance sponsored by Chevron. The band rocked the crowd with several of their classic hits as guests filled the dance floor to celebrate. The evening wrapped up with a VIP reception at the illustrious Hearst Castle, incorporating a Hublot-branded photo booth and pop-up boutique, cocktails, and guided tours of the iconic castle. Several celebrities and guests attended the Challenge including actors Nolan Gould, Greg Germann, Sean Marquette, and Kevin McHale; Journalist and Author Maria Shriver; President of Hublot of America Jean-François Sberro; and 2019 Miss Teen California Alina Carranza.

The classic event was another success that brought together local and global supporters and participants for a weekend of celebrations, cycling, and recommitment to the Best Buddies mission.

Challenge sponsors included: Presenting Sponsor, Pepsi-Cola, Official Beverage of Best Buddies Challenges; Carnival Cruise Line; Chevron Corporation, Official Volunteer Partners of the Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle; Hublot; Hearst; Abaco Wines & Wine Bar; E. & J. Gallo Winery; Silicon Valley Bank; Capital Dynamics; First Solar; Paramount Pictures; Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits; BMC Switzerland, Official Bike Sponsor; and The San Francisco Chronicle, The Exclusive Newspaper of the Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle.

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