2010 Best Buddies Hearst Castle Challenge
By Larry Whitney
It was a sight that will not be repeated any time soon. An entire underground garage filled with shiny new 2011, highly evolved, A8 sedans. WOW! My brother and I readily exchanged high-fives in anticipation of this unexpected bonus. Part of the magic of participating in last year’s AUDI sponsored, Best Buddies Hearst Castle Challenge was piloting the new Q7 TDI. As we had anticipated, that Audi would have been a more than acceptable ride for this year’s assignment, as the diesel V8 demonstrated great power and finesse during last year’s marathon drives along the Big Sur coast.
Yes, I should digress somewhat from singing my praises for the superb Audi vehicles, and applaud the opportunity to serve the wonderful organization founded by Anthony Kennedy Schriver as a tribute to his mother Eunice Kennedy Schriver and her founding efforts on behalf of the Special Olympics. But what better way to express my appreciation to my favorite automotive brand than volunteering to drive a designated Best Buddies VIP down the scenic Coast Route One from Carmel to the Hearst Ranch at San Simeon!
We could talk a lot about the service Best Buddies contributes to the intellectually challenged, and when you wish to get the bigger picture here, please go to the event website: www.hcchallenge2010.org. What you will find on that home page for the Hearst Castle Challenge, besides the 2010 donation figure that approaches $4 million, is a link to the 2010 TEAM AUDI. Audi of America is the national lead sponsor for Best Buddies. This sponsorship is so consistent with their choices to participate in activities that make one proud to be an owner.
Following a fortuitous meeting at a local Quattro Cup Golf Tourney between Terry Geiser (our Audi Club Golden Gate chief instructor) and Western Region AoA Directors, our Northern California Audi Club Chapter accepted the invitation to join with the Southern California Best Buddies Audi Team to form a group of participants that would grow to over sixty strong. AND we were very strong – a HUGE presence at the 100 mile starting line in their red LeMans-inspired TDI jerseys (led by a stunning, white metallic, R8 Spider – of course) with well over $63,000 in rider-solicited donations, and the distinction of being the FOURTH largest team fund raiser in a 1500 plus pool of participants. (see video)
For us in Northern California, it’s all Terry Geiser’s inspiration. By good chance three years ago, he quickly responded to an email request to pilot his new R8 in front of the pack of Best Buddies bicycle riders headed down the Big Sur Highway to Hearst Ranch. After the event he spoke eloquently and passionately about the BB cause, and also about an incredible party called the “BIG SHOW”, with live music by the Black-Eyed Peas, open tequila bars sponsored by Patron, and multiple tables of expertly prepared and delicious ranch-style foods served in an arena hosted by Steven Hearst. And so naturally in 2009 over twenty of us signed up! We variously chose to drive the new Q7, lead the riders, or assist with registration and logistics. Our local Golden Gate Chapter also sponsored two members to ride the 100-mile distance, and when all was said and done, we contributed a total of $5,500 to the cause. This was our 2009 contribution to a much bigger $3.5 million donation to benefit Best Buddies and their international work with the intellectual and developmentally disabled.
Yes, we do have some new, great memories—recalling Olympic Champion Carl Lewis as he joined in singing the National Anthem with Kenny G and David Hasselhoff at the starting line, or the personal tour at Hearst Castle and the beauty of the Neptune Pool at night, or the paraglider slowly descending in misty twilight with a sunset-lit American flag in tribute to the commemoration of 911. All of this combines with the feel-good sense of reward that comes from stepping outside of one’s personal comfort zone. As a TEAM, we made a much larger financial contribution this year. We asked others to contribute dollars to a cause, and that isn’t an automatic step forward for all of us; yet others in our group utilized their social networks and inspired everyone!
So please, enjoy the photos that accompany this story, seek out the greater story on-line, and consider your own participation for 2011 and beyond. We would love to share the wealth of experience that comes with participation at a Best Buddies Challenge, whether in California, or Hyannis Port, or Miami.
Audi of America, as the National Sponsor, already sees the value and is honored in-kind by our enjoyment. In this way, we are in alignment with the greater perspective that is the Best Buddies official slogan when Best Buddies volunteers share in their outreach: “I See You”.
Then again, in expressing my great appreciation for driving the 2011, Audi A8, I will hope that it be entirely possible that next year, our VIP – Volunteer Guide Audi, will be the new 2012 A7!