Metta World Peace, the rapper, quick-exiting Dancing With the Stars contestant and World Champion Los Angeles Laker formerly known as Ron "Ron-Ron" Artest, is being honored in Newport Beach this evening by the foundation formed in the memory of Samantha Runnion.
The Joyful Child Foundation, which was formed by Runnion's mother Erin in the wake of the little Stanton girl's abduction and murder in the summer of 2002, is also bestowing its award recognizing advocacy for children to Jane Velez-Mitchell, host of HLN's Issues With Jane Velez-Mitchell.
They will be honored at a gala themed "Protection, Responsibility, Inclusion, Dignity and Empowerment of Children" from 6:30 to 10 tonight at the Fairmont Newport Beach, 4500 MacArthur Blvd., Newport Beach.
The nonprofit foundation also presents its Citizen Advocate Lifetime Achievement honor to District Attorney Tony Rackauckas and its Community Partner of the Year Award to Collene Campbell, who became the dean of Orange County victims rights advocates after the 1982 murder of her son and, six years later, the murders of her brother, millionaire racing promoter Mickey Thompson, and his wife.
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Proceeds from the event support the Joyful Child Foundation's abduction prevention and child safety education efforts throughout Orange County.
"I am so excited about this year's event," Erin Runnion says in a statement. "It means the world to me to have all of our honorees attending; many of whom have been mentors and friends to me and the Joyful Child Foundation for years. I am inspired by their example and encouraged by the awareness and difference they've each made,"
It was the Samantha Runnion case that prompted CNN's Larry King to dub Orange County's then-Sheriff Mike Carona "America's Sheriff." Carona is now sitting in the federal pen after being convicted of corruption--unrelated to the Runnion case, of course.
Seating for tonight's event was limited as this was posted. For more information, visit http://thejoyfulchild.org/