Special Olympian Eager for "Amazing Experience" at Rose Parade - NBC Southern California

The annual Rose Parade and football game showcase Southern California

Special Olympian Eager for "Amazing Experience" at Rose Parade

Dustin Plunkett travels the world to share his story about how the Special Olympics forever changed his path

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A Special Olympian whose become the global ambassador for the games is eager for what he calls "a most amazing experience" at the 2014 Rose Parade. Angie Crouch reports for the NBC4 News at 5 and 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 29, 2014. (Published Monday, Dec. 29, 2014)

    One Southern California volunteer is the epitome of the 126th Rose Parade theme: Inspiring Stories.

    Dustin Plunkett, 33, is one of dozens helping to build Kaiser Permanente's float that showcases the Special Olympics World Games, which will be held in Los Angeles next year.

    But Plunkett isn't just a volunteer. He's the global ambassador for the games — an event he says changed his life — who's been honored by President Barack Obama.

    "I was diagnosed with gum cancer," Plunkett said of a pregame medical exam. "If it had gone one more month long, I wouldn’t be alive today."

    Plunkett travels the world to share his story about how the Special Olympics forever changed his path.

    "I’m around people that are just like me, I'm around people that were bullied and ridiculed every day of their life growing up," Plunkett said. "This is our safe place."

    Kaiser Permanente, along with building the float, is providing 400 volunteer medical professionals to care for the competitors when they arrive in LA.

    "Perhaps some of the these athletes have never received medical care," said Mayra Suarez of Kaiser Permanente. "We’re talking about athletes that are coming from 177 countries from all over the world."

    Plunkett will ride on the float sitting next to 1960 Olympic gold medalist Rafer Johnson, who founded California's branch of the Special Olympics.

    "So it’s going to be a most amazing experience for me, first time at the Rose Parade, first time riding a float," Plunkett said. "It's going to be one of the most amazing times of my life."
     

    Behind the Scenes With the Rose Parade's Volunteers

    [LA] Behind the Scenes With the Rose Parade's Volunteers
    About 5,000 volunteers work long hours to bring the Rose Parade's unique floats to life. Melissa Etezadi reports for NBC4's News at Noon on Dec. 29, 2014.
    (Published Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014)

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