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Disability Nonprofit Names Actress Holly Robinson Peete ‘Mother of the Year’

Holly Robinson Peete is famously known for her TV acting roles on 21 Jump Street and Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper, as well as being an original co-host on The Talk. But, especially within the disability community, she’s also recognized as a dedicated disability advocate. Just in time for Mother’s Day, Best Buddies International, a friendship-based nonprofit serving persons with disabilities, is honoring Robinson Peete with their annual ‘Mother of the Year’ award.

Robinson Peete, and her husband Rodney Peete, a former NFL quarterback, are parents to four (now grown) children: twins, daughter Ryan and son Rodney, Jr., both of whom have neurodiverse conditions, and sons Robinson and Roman. At age three, Rodney Jr. was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which is a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, and speech and nonverbal communication. And during her teenage years, Ryan was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a condition of brain development and/or brain activity differences that can affect attention, self-control and emotional regulation.

Honoring Robinson Peete & all Mothers

Founded in 1989, Best Buddies International works to create opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development and inclusive living for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). This year, at its 6th Annual Best Buddies’ Celebration of Mothers, presented by Cadillac, the organization will acknowledge the disability advocacy efforts of Robinson Peete. The event will take place on Saturday, May 13, 2023 in Pacific Palisades, California.

Robinson Peete personifies the genuine love and resiliency that parents of children with IDD exhibit to ensure their children live meaningful, purpose-driven lives, says Best Buddies International.

“I am incredibly honored to be Best Buddies International’s ‘Mother of the Year.’ Being a mom of four has truly been a blessing and to receive this acknowledgement in celebration of Mother’s Day is a welcome surprise,” said Holly Robinson Peete. “Over the years, I have had the pleasure of working closely with Best Buddies and the work their organization offers supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is so needed. I am looking forward to their upcoming celebration of mothers, and to continue working alongside this outstanding organization.”

For more than two decades, Robinson Peete has supported various causes and charities in hopes of furthering disability acceptance, aligning with Autism Speaks, the More to ADHD campaign and Best Buddies, to name a few. Robinson Peete and her husband also founded their own organization, the HollyRod Foundation, which strives to raise awareness and provide resources to families that have a loved one who has received either an autism or Parkinson’s disease diagnosis. [Robinson Peete’s father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.]

Holly Robinson Peete, photographed with her family including her husband and four children.
The Peete Family (Best Buddies)

Like Robinson Peete, Mothers Advocate for Their Children 

It’s important to note, however, that the annual event isn’t just about honoring one celebrity mom. Rather, the Annual Best Buddies’ Celebration of Mothers centers on saluting all mothers and, more specifically, the amazing mothers of Best Buddies’ participants.

“Across the globe, mothers act as pillars of love, friendship and strength for their families. Mothers are an invaluable source of encouragement and, above all, they understand us like no one else can,” said Anthony Kennedy Shriver, Founder, Chairman & CEO of Best Buddies International. “My mother, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, will always be my hero. I would be nowhere without her unending love and guidance. My mother guided me in everything I did and, without her, Best Buddies would not exist.”

In the late 1960s, Eunice Kennedy Shriver founded the Special Olympics, an international sports organization for persons with physical and intellectual disabilities. And, apparently, she passed along her kind, philanthropic mindset of supporting and championing those with differing abilities.

“I thank her for her love, passion, leadership and faith in our cause. I am thankful for her enduring spirit which guides me in the work that I do today on behalf of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” Anthony Kennedy Shriver shared. And isn’t that what Mother’s Day is all about?

AmeriDisability wishes a Happy Mother’s Day to all mother’s and mother figures, especially those connected to our disability community. 

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Nancy DeVault
Nancy is the managing editor of AmeriDisability. She is an award-winning storyteller passionate about health and happiness.

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