Virgen: Donahue & Robinson co-chairs for Special Olympics charity event

What do you think? Is Orange County an area dominated by USC fans? Or are there more UCLA fans than Trojans in the OC?

Go to any Orange County bar during the fall for football or drive through most Orange County neighborhoods and you'll see plenty of cardinal and gold.

But Terry Donahue, the former Bruins football coach who lives on Balboa Island, believes times are changing. There are plenty of Bruins by the beach, he said. And, he's hoping his belief is proved true for a big event on Sunday at the Newport Dunes

Donahue and his friend, former USC football coach John Robinson, will be celebrity co-chairs for USC vs. UCLA Competitions at the Dunes on Sunday to benefit the Newport Beach Host Town Committee Special Olympics LA 2015.

"I think for years Orange County has always been a USC area," Donahue said. "That has dramatically changed over the past 10 years. The demographics have shifted. This is always going to be a strong USC area. It's always going to be a lot of USC people and fans here. But there are now a lot of real UCLA people who live in the area. Things have really changed."

Donahue celebrated his birthday on Wednesday. I called him up to talk about Sunday and to wish him a Happy Birthday. He wouldn't say his age.

He's getting up there, but the coach still looks great for 71.

Maybe he'll actually participate in the competitions on Sunday. Or maybe he won't.

"Unless I race against Robinson, that might be the only race I would do," Donahue said.

And who would win?

"I don't know," Donahue said. "I think it would be close. But I'm not sure even one of us would finish."

Robinson, who turns 80 next month, would rather watch the festivities on Sunday.

"If sitting down is a competition we might have a good contest," Robinson said. "Terry is a good friend of mine. I'm looking forward to it. We've been part of a bunch of events for charity. This one is great. It's a privilege for us to participate."

The Newport Beach Host Town Committee, of which I am a part of, is the group in charge of housing Special Olympic athletes (from Mexico and Fiji) for this summer's Games in Los Angeles. The committee is also about showing the athletes a good time which is what Sunday is all about.

"The real reason I'm participating in this event is because Special Olympics is one of the truly great efforts," Donahue said. "They do fantastic work, nationally and regionally. Rafer Johnson, who is the national spokesperson, is a wonderful man. It has helped so many people appreciate the athletes that participate. It's been wonderful for the athletes and the families and for everyone who gets to work with the athletes. It's truly a win-win for everyone."

The USC-UCLA rivalry will be on display on Sunday from 1-3 p.m., featuring stand-up paddleboard races and volleyball on the sand.

Ticket information can be found at NewportBeachParty.com. The Newport Beach Host Town Committee for Special Olympics is aiming to raise $25,000. To help that cause there is an exclusive package, "25 Newport Beach Champions," for this weekend events at the Dunes.

The first 25 people to donate $1,000 will receive the following:

1. VIP tickets to the USC vs. UCLA event on Sunday at the Dunes.

2. A football signed by Donahue and Robinson.

3. A photo of you and your family with the coaches Donahue and Robinson, and a Special Olympic athlete at the event.

4. A VIP reception ticket for all the "25 champions" at the Dunes.

5. Two $95 tickets to the wine event Friday night at the Dunes.

6. 10 VIP tickets to the BBQ, Beer and Bands event on Saturday at the Dunes.

7. 10 VIP tickets to Sunday's events at the Dunes.

8. A photo of you and your family/team with the Special Olympics torch.

The special package is limited to the first 25 people who deliver a check payable to "World Games 2015" to the Newport Dunes Sales office, 1131 Bay Drive, Newport Beach, CA 92660.

Email WorldGames@NewportBeachParty.com with any questions.

There are several events taking place this weekend at the Dunes for many charities, including Special Olympics.

Local high school students and volunteers will be honored around noon at the Dunes for their achievements and contributions to support the upcoming games and related events.

Maybe some of those students will attend USC or UCLA in the future. They might even participate in the fun competitions to benefit the Special Olympics even more.

"It's great," Robinson said of the Special Olympics. "Sometimes you get caught up in your own world. But when you step out and participate in events like these it can be great. Both Terry and I feel privileged and we look forward to it."

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