During my travels I meet some extraordinary people who make a difference in our world. Recently at a Terranea Chef’s Table Dinner, I sat at a table across from Kelly Pond, Executive V.P. Development and Communications for Special Olympics Southern California and near Dustin Plunkett, a Global Ambassador for the Special Olympics.
We enjoyed a cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception, followed by an intimate three-course dinner paired with wines personally selected by vintner Nebil (Bilo) Zarif, the owner of Summerland Winery.
The Honey Bee theme dinner was prepared by four of Terranea’s talented chefs – Chef Bernard Ibarra, Chef Elie Chow, Chef Bruce Nguyen and Chef Pierino Jermonti. Each prepared hot and cold hors d’oeuvres, a first course, main course and dessert all made with honey.
A portion of the proceeds from each dinner benefits a non-profit partner organization. The night I dined, the Special Olympics benefitted. While enjoying dessert, I sat next to Dustin Plunkett to learn more about his life and achievements.
Almost twenty years ago, Plunkett got involved with the Special Olympics after a director of a local parks and recreation noticed his athletic talent. He competed in seven different sports from golf to basketball. As he grew older the Special Olympics saw this jewel of a man and offered him many opportunities.
“Special Olympics is like a family to me,” shared Plunkett. He recently became an ESPN analyst with the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles. “It was the most rewarding experience in my life.”
This kind, gentle and articulate public speaker shared, “The recent Special Olympics in Los Angeles brought 6500 athletes from around the world together. Iran walked into the Opening Ceremonies with Iraq. Over 1300 athletes received new glasses at the Healthy Athletes Village and 82% of the athletes were medically screened.”
Dustin is now giving back to the community as a coach for young athletes in basic sports skills, and as a basketball coach and softball coach for the Lakewood Special Olympics program in Southern California. The kids he coaches are very lucky. They will succeed in life under his compassionate direction and leadership. Follow and Tweet Dustin @DustinPlunkett.
To learn more about the next Terranea Dinners, tickets are $225 per person and must be purchased in advance, via Terranea.com.*Purchase two tickets and receive a complimentary ocean view room for the night of the event.
The next dinner is Thursday, October 29. It’s a Wine Harvest Dinner with proceeds benefiting Meals on Wheels. The multi-course meal is paired with Villa Oneiro, Rolling Hills.
On Thursday, December 3 is a Winter Harvest Traditions dinner with wine pairing by Margerum Wines in Santa Barbara. The evening will benefit City of Hope.