Special Olympics Torch Walk Returns, Athlete of the Year Named

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The 2018 Newport Beach Special Olympics Unity Torch Walk participants, including then-Mayor Marshall “Duffy” Duffield (holding torch, center right) and then-Mayor Pro Tem Will O’Neill (holding torch, center left), and City Council members Kevin Muldoon and Diane Dixon.
— Photo courtesy Special Olympics

The Special Olympics are returning to Newport Beach for the 3rd Annual Unity Torch Walk and there are a number of ways to support the cause.

The city will host this year’s Unity Torch Walk from 6–9 p.m. on May 14 at the Newport Beach Civic Center.

Event will include the Unity Torch Walk Opening Ceremony, Mini-Hoop Shoot Challenge, live music, craft beer and fine wines, and BBQ provided by Newport Rib Company.

Hosting the event helps continue to foster the city’s inspiring relationship with the Special Olympics, city staff explained previously.

“Our athletes will inspire you with their fierce determination to do their best and the joy they bring to life and competition,” the city’s Special Olympics Hometown fundraising website reads. “Be a part of something special.”

Join the Inclusion Revolution as Special Olympic athletes, partnered with police, fire, city council, city officials and local community members walk a 3/4-mile loop through the art trails passing the torch to one another as a symbol of unity and community. The walk concludes at the Civic Center as we march though a band, cheerleaders and fans ready to kick-off a night of celebration.

Mini-hoop challenge teams consist of four players and one Special Olympic athlete. Each team member gets five shots. The top team will be crowned the winner with a check of $2,500 made in their name to benefit Special Olympics Orange County.

“Cheer on your favorite team in the Mini-Hoop Shoot Challenge with local city officials and community members partnered with Special Olympic athletes, as they battle it out to see which team will be named ‘Kings of the Court’ and ‘Hometown Heroes’ for Newport Beach Hometown Special Olympics,” the city’s fundraising website reads.

The Hometown Hero Fundraising Challenge will help raise money to support more than 662 Special Olympic athletes that live work or go to school in Newport Beach. The team raising the largest amount of donations will be awarded the Hometown Hero Perpetual Trophy presented at opening ceremonies.

For group tickets, there are a few choices: “Nothing But Net” option for a Mini-Hoop Shoot Team for $375, a “Super Fan” table for $475, or combine both for the “Run & Gun” option for $750.

Individuals can become a Torch Walk Participant (or supporter that can’t attend) for $70.

Special Olympics basketball and soccer player Anthony Mancillas will receive the 2020 Orange County Athlete of the Year award at the 17th annual Heart of Champions fundraising gala on April 18.
— Photo courtesy of SOOC ©

Special Olympics Orange County also recently announced that basketball player Anthony Mancillas will receive the 2020 Orange County Athlete of the Year award, and Ed Arnold will be inducted into the OC Hall of Fame during the 17th annual Heart of Champions fundraising gala at the Pasea Hotel and Spa in Huntington Beach on April 18.

Mancillas, 38, of Huntington Beach, is a 22-year veteran on the Special Olympics Orange County Tiger’s basketball and soccer teams, officials explained in a press release shared on Thursday.

He actively represents Special Olympics by competing in basketball, soccer, and volleyball tournaments, while also participating in fundraising events. Mancillas is also a Special Olympics Global Messenger and leader in the community who is responsible for sharing the organization’s message of acceptance and inclusion.

“Anthony embodies the spirit of Special Olympics with his sportsmanship, leadership, and commitment to teamwork,” SOSC’s President & CEO Bill Shumard said in a prepared statement. “He is a positive representative and role model for Special Olympics athletes and volunteers and in the local community.”

Fountain Valley resident Ed Arnold is best known for his 46 years as a television news and sports anchor for KABC, KTLA, and KOCE. He also served as the volunteer on-air announcer for the “Hour of Power” religious program since it began in 1970.

Arnold has been involved with Special Olympics since Eunice Kennedy Shriver took the games from her backyard to the national then international stage in 1968, officials explained in the message. He was a founding board member of the Western Special Olympics and still plays an active role in Special Olympics Southern California events.

He served on SOSC’s Board of Directors for many years and over 40 years was the games’ announcer and master of ceremonies of the Opening Ceremony at the Southern California Summer Games, beginning when the championship was titled the Western Special Olympics Games.

“This is a huge honor to be recognized for an organization that I believe has changed not only the lives of our athletes but also the lives and attitudes of their families and people around the world,” Arnold said in the statement. “None of what I’ve done for Special Olympics would have happened without the support of my wife, Dixie, who I greatly appreciate.”

This year, Special Olympics will also recognize Rocco Keller, for his education initiatives of young athletes. The 6-year-old from Laguna Beach stars in the Emmy-winning A&E series “Born This Way,” and inspires several young athletes and brings awareness nationally to the Orange County chapter, SOOC officials explained.

The Heart of Champions, Special Olympics on Parade gala is scheduled for April 18 at the Pasea Hotel & Spa in Huntington Beach.

For more information, visit sosc.org/newporthometown and sosc.org/hoc.

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