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

More than 1,500 people are expected to participate in the Challenge – a charity walk, run and ride to benefit Best Buddies International – on September 8.

“The impact that Best Buddies has made in the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and the influence the organization has had in families and communities around the world is nothing short of awe-inspiring,” said Maria Shriver. “I am so very proud to, once again, be the Honorary Co-Chair of the Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle. I look forward to joining Team Maria members and the other event participants as we raise critical funds and awareness in support of the Best Buddies mission.”

The Challenge will kick-off with the “Entertainment Tonight” Best Buddies Golf Challenge, presented by Zenith Watches, at the legendary Tehama Golf Club in Carmel on Friday, September 7. During the Golf Challenge, Best Buddies participants will tee-off alongside celebrities, professional athletes and special guests. The day will conclude with an evening VIP reception hosted by Maria Shriver, which will also take place at Tehama Golf Club.

On Saturday, September 8, hundreds of cyclists will take to the starting line at Quail Lodge Golf Club for the majestic 100-mile ride down the 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. All Challenge participants will receive a jersey featuring artwork by FriendsWithYou, Best Buddies’ newest fine art collaborator.

Several other celebrities, professional athletes and special guests are also expected to participate in the Challenge, including actors Michael Chiklis, Rob Lowe, and Verne Troyer; actress Lauren Potter; and “Entertainment Tonight” host Nancy O'Dell — all of whom will be encouraged to team-up with Best Buddies participants and compete in “Friendship Races” on tandem bicycles.

The Challenge will be capped off by a barbeque and private concert by Blues Traveler at Hearst Ranch. During the festivities, Steve Hearst, Vice President and General Manager of Hearst Corporation’s Western Properties, will be presented with the “Spirit of Leadership” award. The “Spirit of Leadership” award is Best Buddies’ highest accolade and is presented to individuals who have shown great leadership, generosity and spirit in supporting the Best Buddies mission.

“Steve Hearst has shown incredible dedication to the Best Buddies mission for almost a decade, and we are delighted to have the opportunity to present him with our ‘Spirit of Leadership’ award,” said Anthony Kennedy Shriver, Founder and Chairman, Best Buddies International. “As an Honorary Host of the Challenge, Steve has helped bring an increased awareness – not only in California, but also around the world – to the immeasurable abilities people with intellectual and developmental disabilities possess. Hopefully, his incredible efforts will inspire countless others to follow in his footsteps, and step up to show their support for friendship, employment and leadership development for people with special needs.”

Audi of America will once again return as the official vehicle sponsor of the event. Additional Challenge sponsors include: Hearst Corporation, Zenith Watches, E. & J. Gallo Winery, The Saunders Family Foundation, Avid, BP West Coast Products Company, LLC, Pepsi, Chevron, Carnival Cruise Lines, 20th Century Fox, PG&E, Southern Wine & Spirits, Natixis Global Asset Management, CBS/“Entertainment Tonight,” FIJI Water, Anthem Blue Cross, Magellan Healthcare, KPIX/CBS 5, San Francisco Chronicle, Bicycling Magazine, Pilot Air, Getty Images, Niche Media/L.A. Confidential, Quail Lodge Golf Club, Virgin America and MY Skincare.

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: U.S. Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Leader; Tom Torlakson, California Superintendent of Public Instruction; Senator Mark DeSaulnier, 7th Senate District; Senator Ted Gaines, 1st Senate District; Senator Michael J. Rubio, 16th Senate District; Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, 13th Assembly District; Assemblymember, Connie Conway, 34th Assembly District; Assemblymember Nathan Fletcher, 75th Assembly District ; Assemblymember Mariko Yamada, 8th Assembly District; Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster; Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson; and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

Source: PR Newswire

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