Honor bound

Jon and Mindy Peters are tapped for their charitable efforts

Longtime anonymous donors to a variety of charities, Jon and Mindy Peters are now starting to get some very public recognition for their history of giving -- and from a somewhat unlikely source.

It all started in 2005, when Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff Luis Gerardo "Jerry" Ortiz, 35, was shot and killed at point-blank range by a gangbanger. "We met his wife and just felt for the family and what they were going through," Mindy Peters says. "We helped them out."

This act of kindness led to a relationship with Sheriff Lee Baca, and Thursday, just a few days after Jon Peters receives his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Jon and Mindy Peters will be feted at the annual Salute to Youth Benefit Dinner for the Sheriff's Youth Foundation.
Honorary chairs of the event are U.S. House of Representative Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzengger, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and District Attorney Steve Cooley; honorary co-chairs are Cindy and Alan Horn, Ron Meyer, Shaquille O'Neil, Brandon Routh, Terry Semel, Bryan Singer, Stacey Snider and Barbra Streisand.

In a video tribute to be played at the event, Horn says: "Even though you are, let's say, passionate about your projects, you bring that passion to your projects in a context of humanity. And that is the most striking thing about you: It's your goodness, it is your caring about people, it is your concern for others."

Peters makes no secret of his brush with the dark side as a child; he wound up in a juvenile detention center as a teenager after coming to loose ends after the death of his father. Two deputies in the Big Brother program mentored him through the tough times. "I realized that, basically, happiness was a choice," Peters says. "I had to make a choice in my life either to go forward and make my life work, or not. And if not, actually, was not an alternative. They helped me see that."