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Dinner raises funds for Special Olympics

The Crowd

February 25, 2006|By B.W. COOK

Dorothy and Donald Kennedy are in the social spotlight this week. They are among the most distinguished of Orange County's first families ? not simply because they are descendants of pioneer stock, but also because they are first when it comes to supporting every possible worthwhile community project.

The Kennedys lent their formidable reputation in support of the Orange County Special Olympics at an exciting reception and dinner held at the Santa Ana headquarters of their company, First American Trust.

The Feb. 16 event raised underwriting funds that will sponsor the upcoming fourth annual Special Olympics dinner celebration. The dinner this year, billed as "Olympians on Parade," will take place March 17 at the Disneyland Hotel.

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The Kennedys will be honored with the Champion Spirit award, and Ed Arnold will receive the Madeline Evans Humanitarian award at the dinner. The much-loved Olympic athlete Rafer Johnson will be on hand to present the honors; he was front and center for the underwriters dinner as well.

Also in the crowd for the underwriting dinner at First American Trust were Bill Shumard, the new president and chief executive of Special Olympics Southern California, and Balboa Island's Jerry McGee, chief operating officer of Ambassadors International and a new board member with Special Olympics.

Lido Isle's man about town Jerry Richards and community leader Jan Landstrom of Corona del Mar were in the crowd. Also present were major supporters Shirley and Joe MacPherson of Lido Isle, and Newporters Mary Frome, Barbara Ramsey and Corine Couwenberg.

Betty Belden Palmer, the most dedicated Orange County patron of the Special Olympics, greeted the gathering with her customary generous spirit. As a former physical education teacher in county schools, Belden Palmer takes the Special Olympics very seriously. She knows what a difference it makes in the lives of so many people, both participants and the community.

The entire event was made even more special as guests compared notes on the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.

"Special Olympics O.C. provides opportunities to improve the health and well-being of children and adults with intellectual disabilities, through their participation in year-round sports training and competitions in 20 Olympic-type sports," Landstrom said.

To help make a difference, call Corine Couwenberg ? (714) 564-3874 ? at the Special Olympics office and reserve a space for the March 17 event. Tickets are $150 per person.

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