Olympian Simone Biles gives a boost to 44 Women for Orangewood fundraiser – Orange County Register


Yvette Verastegui grew up in Orange County, suffering years of abuse at the hands of her mother before being placed in foster care at 13. When she aged out of the foster care system, she had few options. She was homeless. Then, Verastegui found hope.

The volunteers and staff at The Orangewood Foundation took the young foster child under their wings. With funds raised by the 44 Women for Orangewood, an auxiliary organization of the foundation, Verastegui found support, guidance and much needed scholarship money. She also learned that education would be her savior.

“My story is not sad because it is filled with the kindness and generosity of others,” said Verastegui, one of the two keynote speakers at the 44 Women for Orangewood Champagne luncheon on June 9, hosted at Disneyland Hotel.

Verastegui went on to attended law school and, after passing the bar, practiced law for years. Eventually she was appointed as a California Superior Court judge.

Joining Verastegui at the luncheon was another success story extraordinaire, Olympic gymnast Simone Biles, also a product of the foster care system, born to a drug-addicted mother. Before medaling in Rio and dazzling the world with her prowess, Biles’ grandfather and his wife, Nellie Biles, had changed her and her sister’s lives by adopting them.

That June morning, Nellie shared the stage with her daughter, Simone. Tears flowed as Orangewood’s Chief Development Officer Carlos Leija announced that $775,000 was awarded to 247 young adults just last year for college and grad school. Since its inception, Orangewood has helped over 80,000 kids find opportunities of Olympic proportions

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