- Posted March 3, 2013 by
San Diego, California
HELPING to "FINISH CHELSEA'S RUN"
I had to laugh at a couple of things that occurred while I held a sign along the race course for "Finish Chelsea's Run" on the beautifully warm and sunny morning of Saturday, March 2, 2013. As soon as the elite athletes started off, one of them runs right off the street and onto the sidewalk next to me and lights up a cigarette! I was dumb-founded, but this man starts running along and puffing on a coffin nail during the race! Bizarre!
Next, two women who live in the neighborhood were walking by and commenting on all the hullabaloo. I heard one say to the other, "I can't believe how many KIDS are in this race." Well, "Finish Chelsea's Run" is known as a all-ages, family-friendly event that features scores of school running groups and parents who bring along their little ones. I also saw plenty of proud dog-owners who were running or walking with their canines.
Funniest of all, in order to spur some of the runners on to greatness during a particularly warm morning, the race moderator took to issuing "words of inspiration" to get the pack charged up. I was doing my best to wave my signs and call out encouragement to the athletes.
But the race moderator made sure to shame those lagging behind by telling the runners to "not let a baby in a stroller pass you by!"
Since my marathon running days are behind me, I do still enjoy getting out and volunteering my time to support good causes like this. I also have a heart for anything that has to do with issues that support women. So I was placed as a "sign holder" along the 6th Avenue route that all runners must traverse in order to race or walk the all 5K course.
Quotes that Chelsea King loved were printed on large signs. Also the 6th grade class at Rancho Bernardo Middle School had painted and drawn some beautiful floral tributes to Chelsea and I was especially honored to have those to hold during the race.
Chelsea King was a high school student at Poway High School in San Diego's North County suburbs when she went on a run in 2010 and never came back. The teen had been abducted by a sex offender named John Gardner who raped and strangled her. A few days later, her body was found in a shallow grave. As it turns out, John Gardner, who pleaded guilty to her murder, as well as that of another local teen, Amber DuBois, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The troubled man had several parole violations but nobody from the state parole board had made any effort to enforce the laws and Gardener roamed the area looking for girls and women to prey upon.
Chelsea's grief-stricken parents worked hard to make sense of the senseless death of their daughter and with the help of California State Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, managed to pass Chelsea's Law.
According to a story on CNN.com, "anyone convicted of certain sex offenses against a child in California will get life in prison without parole." Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger traveled to San Diego's Balboa Park for a beautiful public memorial and signed into California law on Sept. 9, 2010, the new "Chelsea's Law." .
In addition to this new, stricter law which keeps better tabs on convicted sex offenders, the King family and the Chelsea's Light Foundation sponsors an annual 5K charity event in Balboa Park, where Chelsea loved to run, that helps to raise money to fund several college scholarships. The Cheslea's Light Foundation Sunflower Scholarship Fund is the recipient of the monies raised from the proceeds of "Finish Chelsea's Run." This year, Chelsea's younger brother, Tyler, was on hand and doing some filming.. According to NBC News San Diego, "Tyler is now on a mission to inspire others to speak out against sexual predators. He came up with the idea to make a documentary and share his very personal story with young people."
“I want to empower kids to use their voices because an issue like sexual predators, it's mainly happening to kids and the kids need to get out there and use their voice,” he said.
Over 6,000 runners came out this past Saturday morning to help "Finish Chelsea's Run." It was a wonderful way to celebrate a beautiful person whose life was cut off way too soon.