HERNDON, Va., Oct. 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Audi is on a mission to help Best Buddies International raise a record-setting $1.7 million in total donations at the 2011 Audi Best Buddies Challenge: Washington, D.C., a charity walk, run and ride on October 22. Founded by Anthony Kennedy Shriver in 1989, Best Buddies is dedicated to creating opportunities for friendship, employment and leadership training for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).
As the largest corporate team – raising close to $140,000 – and Title Sponsor of the Challenge, Audi aims to help Best Buddies exceed last year's $1.2 million raised. 1,200 participants will race in the Challenge, chaired by Johan de Nysschen, President, Audi of America. Additionally, the company has renewed its partnership with Best Buddies for another three years. During this time, Audi will continue to serve as the Title Sponsor of the D.C. Challenge, provide vehicles as the official car of Best Buddies, and support the launch of a formal job program in the D.C. area.
"I am deeply honored to serve as Honorary Chair of this year's Audi Best Buddies Challenge: Washington, D.C.," said de Nysschen. "I am particularly proud of the extended level of connection our company has established with Best Buddies since the inception of the partnership. This year, with close to 150 employees, dealers, partners and their friends and families joining the Audi team, our participation once again reflects this commitment."
On Saturday, October 22, hundreds of cyclists will take to the starting line at the base of the Washington Monument on the National Mall for a 100K (62-mile) or 20-mile ride through the nation's capital. The Challenge, which is open to participants of all ages and abilities and is designed to showcase the Best Buddies mission in action, also features the Carl Lewis Challenge, a 5K run/walk chaired and led by the Olympic gold-medalist himself, and the Celebrity-Student Fun Run, a 5K run/walk for high school and college students chaired and led by "Glee's" Lauren Potter.
Several other celebrities, professional athletes and special guests are also expected to participate in the Challenge, including Honorary Co-Chairs Ted Leonsis, Owner, Washington Capitals, Washington Mystics and Washington Wizards, and his buddy Ken Holden, Buddy Ambassador; American Cycling Legend Bobby Julich; American Olympic Cyclist Bobby Lea and his brother Syd Lea, a Special Olympics Cycling Gold-Medalist; Best Buddies International Founder and Chairman Anthony K. Shriver; Miss Teen USA Danielle Doty, Miss District of Columbia Heather Swann, Miss Teen District of Columbia Imani Bentham, Miss Maryland Allyn Rose, and Miss Teen Maryland Kristen Nicholson; Pop Artist Romero Britto; and Professional Tri-Athlete Omar Nour.
Additionally, US Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), US Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), US Senator Richard Burr (R-NC), US Senator Tom R. Harkin (D-IA), US Congressman Gregg Harper (R-MS), US Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD), US Congressman Jim Moran (D-VA), US Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), US Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi (Democratic Leader), US Senator Jim Risch (R-ID), US Senator Marco A. Rubio (R-FL), and US Senator Mark R. Warner (D-VA) have also graciously agreed to join the Challenge's Political Ambassador Committee to help promote not only the event, but also inclusion for individuals with IDD.
Since partnering with Best Buddies International in 2007, Audi has helped the organization raise over $44 million in total donations in its primary fundraising events, such as this one. Further, the company has actively engaged employees and dealers on various programs and levels, ranging from employees volunteering to become members of local Best Buddies boards to hiring a Best Buddies Jobs participant to work part-time at Audi's Virginia headquarters.
"I can proudly say on behalf of the Audi organization that this partnership has been tremendously rewarding for us, and it is with great excitement that we have announced our renewed partnership with Best Buddies for another three years," said Johan de Nysschen. "We not only hope to help Best Buddies break its overall fund-raising record this year, but we also hope to inspire other local business to get involved to help us create employment opportunities for individuals with IDD and build a more formal job program in the future."
This year, activities at the Challenge will also include special "Friendship Races," where event participants join buddies on tandem bicycles. One of these races will be dedicated to the late Eunice Kennedy Shriver and Sargent Shriver, great philanthropists who truly believed that the human spirit could overcome any obstacles.
"I am extremely grateful that Audi has agreed to be the title sponsor of the Audi Best Buddies Challenge: Washington, D.C., not only for this year, but also for the next three years," said Anthony K. Shriver, Founder and Chairman, Best Buddies International. "I am also delighted that Johan de Nysschen is Chairing the event, and that Team Audi will have such a strong presence there, both of which illustrate Audi's company-wide commitment to the Best Buddies mission. But, Audi has truly gone above and beyond in its support for Best Buddies Jobs, as the company has hired a participant with an intellectual disability to work at its headquarters, and is helping to encourage other businesses in the D.C. area to do the same."
The Challenge, which occurs in October to coincide with the Congress-designated National Disability Employment Awareness Month, will be capped off by a luncheon and private musical performance by Kool & The Gang.
Audi of America, Inc. and its U.S. dealers offer a full line of German-engineered luxury vehicles. AUDI AG is among the most successful luxury automotive brands globally. During 2010 Audi was the top performing luxury brand in Europe, and broke all-time company sales records in the U.S. Over the next few years, AUDI AG will invest nearly $16 billion on new products and technologies. Visit www.audiusa.com or www.audiusanews.com for more information regarding Audi vehicle and business issues.
ABOUT BEST BUDDIES
Best Buddies® is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment and leadership development for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Founded in 1989 by Anthony K. Shriver, Best Buddies is a vibrant organization that has grown from one original chapter to almost 1,500 middle school, high school, and college chapters worldwide. Today, Best Buddies' seven formal programs –Middle Schools, High Schools, Colleges, Citizens, e-Buddies® , Jobs and Ambassadors – engage participants in each of the 50 states and in 50 countries, positively impacting the lives of nearly 700,000 people with and without disabilities around the world. As a result of their involvement with Best Buddies, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities secure rewarding jobs, live on their own, become inspirational leaders, and make lifelong friendships. For more information, please visit www.bestbuddies.org or www.bestbuddieschallenge.org.
SOURCE Audi of America, Inc.