Join Maria for her final year as chair of the Best Buddies Challenge!

October 3, 2015

Special Announcement from Maria – 2015 will be Maria’s Final Year as Chair of the Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle! Dear Team Maria, For the last 12 years, I have been the proud chair of the Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle. It was a role I took on as First Lady and six years ago, we started our own team of people who wanted to make an impact: Team Maria. Together we have raised $12 million for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), with over $2 million raised by Team Maria ourselves. It has been an extraordinary journey.  Our team has been a labor of love and together, we’ve been fueled by the gift of Best Buddies. I want to thank you for your support. With my son entering his Senior year of High School and preparing to go off to college, I’ve decided that this will be my last year as chair. I thought it was a good time for me to start a new chapter and make room for someone else to chair.

This event is so important to me and I’ll always try to attend, but it’s time to let someone else infuse their own energy, enthusiasm and new ideas into this extraordinary ride. We’ve been inspired by the simple and powerful act of friendship and have ridden thousands of miles as a team because together we know that we can make a difference in the world.

But there’s still a long distance to go, and I know we will continue Moving Forward Together to continue supporting Best Buddies, strengthening friendships and most importantly, changing hearts and minds to help build a more accepting world for people with IDD.  With this being my last year as chair, I hope you all come back for a blowout year riding along California’s breathtaking coastline in style on September 12, 2015 at the 12th annual Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle. With less than 6 months to go until the ride, it’s time to get registered, start training, and ramp up your fundraising efforts. Follow these simple steps to reconnect with us to start making a difference, change lives and have a lot of fun: 1. Sign-up – Register now for the 2015 Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle here: and get the Team Maria discount rate.  Join the conversation – Visit the Team Maria website, friend us on Facebook and follow @TeamMaria_HCC. Please share your team memories and photos and updates on your fundraising efforts.

We want to hear from you.  We want to support you in your work to support Best Buddies. 3. Tell your story –What inspires you about Best Buddies? Why are you a member of Team Maria? How will you help the team move forward? Check-out what other members of Team Maria had to say. Message us if you’re interested in submitting a profile.  Motivate others to get engaged – Forward this email to a family member, friend, neighbor or co-worker and encourage them to join Team Maria to experience for themselves the team’s fun spirit and passion. If they cannot join the team this year, perhaps they can make a donation. Meet our coach – Team Maria’s coach is Katherine O’Neill – she is here for you as a resource and can answer any logistical, training, or fundraising questions about the ride and Team Maria. See below for more about her, or contact her directly at 617-790-5341 or This year will be the best one yet. And remember, we’re moving forward together! With Gratitude, Maria Shriver

About Team Maria’s Coach Hi, my name is Katherine O’Neill and I’ll be your Coach for the 2015 Best Buddies Challenge: Hearst Castle.  I’ve seen firsthand the value of creating genuine friendships while spending time in my mother’s special education classroom over the years. After witnessing the Best Buddies mission in action at my college’s local chapter, at UNC Chapel Hill, I was motivated to apply for a job with the organization after graduation. I am based out of our Boston office (Go Pats!) and I have had the pleasure of working for Best Buddies since June of last year. I look forward to working with Team Maria this season and I hope to hear more about what motivated you to take the Challenge and your connection to the cause. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have leading up to the event. I can be reached directly at: 617-790-5341 or

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