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Benghazi Attack Hero Highlights Olive Crest Desert Communities “Power of One” Luncheon

Madeline Zuckerman Current Digital, Social Scene

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Harold Wilkinson, event sponsor; Kris “Tanto” Paronto, 2012 Hero of Benghazi; Lorraine Brinton, co-founder of Olive Crest Desert Communities; Jill Wilkinson; Harold Wilkinson IV, and Dr. James Brinton, co-founder of Olive Crest Desert Communities.

Olive Crest Desert Communities, known for its dedication to preventing child abuse, to treating and educating at-risk children and to preserving the family . . . “One Life at a Time,®” hosted its “Power of One” luncheon with a sold-out crowd of over 200 guests. Co-chaired by Georgialee and Doug Lang, this inaugural event was held at The Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa.

“The Power of One” speaks to the difference that any one of us can make in the life of a child or family in crisis,” said Tracy Fitzsimmons, executive director of Olive Crest in the Inland and Desert Communities. “Each of us can make a difference by getting involved.”

The night before the luncheon, featured speaker Kris “Tanto” Paronto, made a special guest appearance at a private Champions’s Dinner held at the Classic Club. Over 40 youth attended from Olive Crest programs, including emancipated foster youth and young men from the Olive Crest Perris Group Homes. This special dinner was generously underwritten by Judy Sumich.

“I believe deeply in the work of Olive Crest, and when I was told of this opportunity for this population to hear Kris Paronto speak, I was touched because I feel this age group is often overlooked,” Sumich said. “Two young men spoke to me after the dinner, and they were so excited about what Kris Paronto had to say. That was such a blessing to me, and I felt grateful.”

Emcee Doug Lang welcomed luncheon guests, then introduced singer Doug Hassett, who sang an emotional “God Bless the USA,” followed by a Color Guard Presentation by Desert Hot Springs High School ROTC Honor Guard. The luncheon event concluded with an informative presentation by Fitzsimmons.

“Olive Crest is an amazing organization that does so much for the Coachella Valley . . . unsung heroes, who are in the trenches every day helping save kids and bring families back together,” said Georgialee Lang. “It is a privilege to be part of the team here in the desert, and seeing lives transformed.”

Paronto, the inspiring hero of the 2012 Benghazi attack, and subject of the book and motion picture “13 Hours,” spoke of his harrowing experience to a spellbound audience. Paronto is a former Army Ranger from the 2nd Battallon 75th Ranger Regiment and private security contractor who has deployed throughout South America, Central America, the Middle East, and North Africa.

Paronto was part of the CIA Annex Security Team that responded to the terrorist attack on the U.S. Special Mission in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012, helping to save over 20 lives while fighting off terrorists for more than 13 hours.

Major Event Sponsors included the Harold Wilkinson Family, the Patrick M. McCarthy Foundation, Judy Sumich, Am-Cam Group, Blauvelt Electric, Robann’s Jewelers, and Judie Cothrun.

Event Media Sponsors included Desert Sun & LOCALiQ, KESQ News Channel 3, Palm Springs Life, Lamar Outdoor Advertising, and CV 104.3.

Olive Crest Desert Communities
42580 Caroline Court, Suite A
Palm Desert, CA 92260

Editor's Note: This event took place prior to the COVID-19 Outbreak.