- Posted March 4, 2012 by
San Diego, California
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Your 'Aha' weight-loss moments
FINISH CHELSEA'S RUN=WHOLE LOTTA FUN!
- nsaidi, CNN iReport producer
The first grass-roots Finish Chelsea's Run took place on the morning of March 20, 2010, when more than 3,500 community members joined together to run and walk in solidarity with, & in honor of Chelsea.
Kelly & Brent King, Chelsea's parents, decided to make it an official, annual tradition in San Diego hosted by the Chelsea’s Light Foundation--the organization they founded to make positive changes for children. Last year, I was there, when on March 5, 2011, more than 5,400 people participated in the inaugural Finish Chelsea’s Run 5K Run/Walk in Balboa Park.
This family-friendly event is now the primary fundraiser for Chelsea’s Light Foundation Sunflower Scholarship Fund, providing scholarships for San Diego County college-bound teens who have embraced characteristics that embodied Chelsea’s academic prowess & service-oriented ethic. The 2011 run/walk raised $110,000 providing ten Sunflower Scholarships. Today, the 2nd Annual Memorial race took place on a lovely, warm day. An estimated 6,000 participants gathered at the starting line at 7:30 a.m. and took off on a scenic 5K run through Balboa Park. Portions of busy, scenic Interstate 163 were closed so the runners could make the loop around through the beautifully popular tourist attraction.
The run was also an environmentally-friendly event. There were volunteers on "green patrol," who kept the course clean, made sure recyclables were being saved, & manned the water bottle re-filling area. New this year: after the “Finish Chelsea’s Run” race, entrants’ number bibs can be taken home & planted to grow wildflowers. The ecologically-friendly bibs are just one way the King family is keeping alive Chelsea’s devotion to the environment.
The run is about 3.1 miles long. The family-friendly course gives participants the option of doing the 5K "JUST FOR FUN" or "TIMED." If you select "TIMED" you receive a chip providing an official race time. If you're not interested in receiving an official time, then "JUST FOR FUN" is the way to go. The breadth and diversity of contestants this year was thrilling to witness. As someone whose best racing days are behind them, all I could do is volunteer to hold race signs along the course.
What really caught my eye: a blind woman running the course with her white cane! She hugged the curb area-waving her cane in front of her! Later on I introduced myself to Aurora Ortiz, who is legally blind and disabled. I commended her great race time of 46 minutes and she tearfully confided she runs to honor her sister, who was kidnapped & raped in their native Puerto Rico.
Other highlights of Finish Chelsea's Run: paint free flowerpots and have your photo taken in front of a wall of painted sunflowers. Lots of interactive displays, free healthy food and drink samples, and live music from The Makepeace Brothers from Venice Beach.
“Last year, the race gave me so much hope,” Chelsea’s father, Brent King, told the San Diego Union/Tribune newspaper. “It gave me hope for an engaged community. It gave me hope for the kids that are going
college. It’s a powerful experience being here. I get to focus on all of the positives that we have witnessed over the last few years.”
This day was a glorious tribute to the legacy of a girl whose spirit was as buoyant as the sunflowers that she loved so much.