Chelsea King’s Light is Getting Brighter

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Booth set up during event

Booth set up during event

Sara Ulloa

Sara Ulloa

Booth set up during event

Rachel Hauser, Staff Writer

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With each loss, a greater strength is gained. Seven years ago, on Feb. 25, Chelsea King was brutally killed. The pain that King’s family and friends endured will never disappear, but they were able to use the light that Chelsea left behind to bring a positive attitude to the community and create awareness to child sexual assault using the Chelsea’s Light Foundation as their platform. The foundation is aimed to create a positive change in the community by a protecting the children.

Chelsea King was a 17-year-old student at Poway high school who went for a run on a Thursday afternoon in Rancho Bernardo Community Park when she became a victim of kidnapping, sexual assault, and murder. Days later, her body was found buried near Lake Hodges. Connected to the murder of Amber Dubois by the same murderer, which happened the year prior.

A year following the devastation, Chelsea’s Law was passed unanimously, the bill was championed by the King family and the Chelsea’s Light Foundation and used to provide stricter penalties to sexual predators that target children, including increased parole provision and watch on previously convicted predators. The law is intended to create a safer environment for all the children in the state of California.

Including Chelsea’s Law, additional programs that the foundation takes pride in are Stronger Together, Sunflower Scholarship Fund, The Changemaker League, Chelsea’s Light Peer Corps, Home Run for Chelsea, and lastly, Finish Chelsea’s Run.

Finish Chelsea’s Run is a 5k run/walk that started in 2010 in honor of King. The money that is raised from the event goes directly towards the Sunflower Scholarship, which grants high school seniors who are” Change Makers” in their community. The rest of the funds go toward creating new legislation laws. The end goal is to better the community.
The week before the Finish Chelsea’s Run event, the day the King’s lost Chelsea, family and friends celebrate and remember her life by handing out sunflowers throughout the community, including leaving them on people’s cars, on their doorstep, and simply handing them out to community members. Sunflowers are a symbol for the Chelsea’s Foundation and are represented in many ways. During the 5k event, sunflowers were sold for $1, with the proceeds going to the foundation.

Katie Rooney, the team captain liaison for the event and co-owner of King’s favorite restaurant, Sushi Lounge, has been involved with the event since day one since Sushi Lounge was one of King’s favorite restaurants. When King went missing, Rooney became a source for dispersing information to the community through social media about the searches and anything the community needed to know to assist in helping find King and support her family. Rooney stated, ”I was approached by Jen Strachan to try to help find ways to keep the community involved in the run because she had heard that our restaurant was one of Chelsea’s favorite,” Rooney has been a large part of the community prior to Finish Chelsea’s run and continues to do so by taking on roles to improve and keep the community a safe place for children.

On March. 4th family, friends, and supporters of Chelsea took on the 7th annual, Finish Chelsea’s Run, that King was never able to finish in Balboa Park. The largest turnout yet, with close to 6,500 participants and hundreds of volunteers.

Before the run kicked off, Chelsea’s mother, Kelly King, led the runners in a fun, energized warm up and thanked all the participants for being there and let them know “This keeps me moving forward and alive,”. The King family was present throughout the entire event and greeted all the finishers with smiles and cheers as they crossed the finish line.

Kelly Perkins, a participant of the Finish Chelsea’s Run, has been going for the last three years. She started running the 5k when she joined the team through her work. “I love coming to the run because it feels like you are a part of something bigger than just day-to-day life.

As the runners finished, they were able to write on a canvas, leaving messages of support, encouragement, and love. This event brought together the entire community to carry on the mission of the foundation and remember the inspiring life of King. “Go big or go home” was the quote that stood out most when family and friends remember King, and the excitement and support that was shown at Finish Chelsea’s run exemplified just that.

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