Special Olympics Unity Torch Returns to Newport Beach

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

The 2nd Annual Special Olympics Unity Torch Walk Opening Ceremony is returning to Newport Beach early next month, officials announced in a press release shared recently.

The event is hosted by the city of Newport Beach and is scheduled for May 9 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Newport Beach Civic Center.

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

“In the spirit of camaraderie that embodies Special Olympics,” officials explain in the message that athletes will partner with members of Newport Beach police and fire departments, City Council, recreation and senior services department, local officials and community residents.

Led by the mounted police, together they will line up and make the 3/4-mile loop along Civic Center Park trails, passing the torch to one another.

Following the torch walk, more than 20 teams will battle it out in the Mini-Hoop Shoot Challenge, which exemplifies “unity and the quest for victory,” the message reads.

At the event, one team will be named “Hometown Hero” for the Newport Beach Hometown Special Olympics, with a check of $2,500 made in their name to benefit Special Olympics Orange County.

Through the gift of time and donations, officials hope Newport Beach and the greater Orange County community can match the $16,000 raised in 2018.

“Donations support year-round training and competitions for more than 652 Special Olympic athletes that call Newport Beach home,” the announcement explains.

The team raising the largest amount of donations will be named the winner of the Hometown Hero Fundraising Challenge and will receive a perpetual trophy with their name engraved.

Participation in the Torch Walk starts at just $70 and includes all beer, wine, food and fun.

Hosting the event helps continue to foster the city’s inspiring relationship with the Special Olympics, explained Recreation and Senior Services Department Director Laura Detweiler.

They have been working diligently to lay the foundation for a well-rounded special needs recreation program and are excited to see it come to fruition, Detweiler said in the prepared statement.

“Last year’s Unity Torch Walk was beyond inspiring,” Detweiler commented. “For five hours the world was a perfect place where everyone put others first. What a great feeling.”

This year’s sponsors include: CR&R, Titan Health & Security Technologies Inc., United Sports Brands, Newport Rib Company, Rodney Strong Vineyards, Barley Forge Brewing Company.

For more information, visit sosc.org/newporthometown.

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