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Opinion

Commentary: Newport Beach will embrace Special Olympians at ‘Hometown’ event

Holding up torches, Newport Beach Mayor Marshall “Duffy” Duffield, right, Mayor Pro Tem
Holding up torches, then-Newport Beach Mayor Marshall “Duffy” Duffield, right, Mayor Pro Tem Will O’Neill, left, and other guests pose for photos during the official Unity Torch Walk, Hometown Hero Hoop Shoot Challenge and BBQ at Newport Beach Civic Center in April 2018.
(File Photo)

“Will, why doesn’t Newport Beach offer programming for adults with special needs?”

A family friend whose son fit the question asked me that at a wedding two years ago. I didn’t have the answer, so my friend and I met with our city’s Recreation & Senior Services director, Laura Detweiler (who, by the way, is awesome). In no time, our Newport Navigator included programming for adults with special needs, all thanks to a friend’s direct question and the amazing work of our Recreation Department.

Our great city has embraced our families and friends with special needs for quite some time. Just within the last four years, Newport Beach joined 100 Southern California cities as host towns for the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles. Our Police Department annually hosts Tip-A-Cop events raising funds for our Special Olympians. And in 2017, then-Mayor Kevin Muldoon spearheaded the successful use of mobile technology to connect deaf and hard-of-hearing people with municipal services.

So it is no surprise that Newport Beach volunteered last year to guinea pig a new “Hometown” event benefitting our Special Olympians. Led by the indefatigable Sue Adams, this event was a triumph. Community members carried the torch through our Civic Center that ended in a celebration and competition sponsored by our local law enforcement, the Newport Beach Rib Co., Barley Forge Brewing Co., and more.

This year’s Hometown event is May 9 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Newport Beach Civic Center. We again have a hoop-shoot challenge (our City Council team will … not win), great food and drink, and live entertainment. And all for a truly great cause.

With our sculpture garden as the backdrop, let’s fill that hill!

Will O’Neill is the mayor pro tem of Newport Beach.

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