December is always a special month for Exceeding Expectations, and this year is no exception. We had some exceptional performances at Tinsel Triathlon and Santa Paws 5K and we celebrated a year of academic and athletic accomplishments at our annual Awards and Scholarship family Christmas party.
The Tinsel Tri is an event EE has been doing since our very early days. This year was special because the event was the big goal for a group of 19 EE kids who were part of a program called Movin’ Up. Each of these kids had been running 5Ks for a year but had never done a triathlon. With a grant from USA Triathlon, we started Movin’ Up in June to train the kids to swim and bike, with the goal of doing their first triathlon at Tinsel in December. On race day, each EE racer had a “Race Angel” (volunteers from our great friends in Tri La Vie) who raced alongside, offering encouragement and help where needed.
With limited bike skills and swim experience, this was a very challenging day for the kids. But each stepped up and gave it everything he/she had, including courage and bravery. Without exception, every one wore a smile at the finish line indicating they understood what had just happened. They had truly exceeded expectations!
You can see photos of the kids racing with their Angels here.
Santa Paws 5K is a Palm Springs event put on by our good friends, Molly and Jay Thorpe, who welcome our large group with open arms. It’s a fun day because in this event every participant is given a Santa suit. What you see is a sea of Santas – some who are serious runners and some who are there to just have fun.
The EE ranks included many of the serious runners:
-9 kids made the podium
-3 fathers made the podium
-Arian placed in the top 10 Overall (Including Men and Women)
-EE had the largest team of the day
-EE had the fastest team of the day
Afterwards, everyone got milk and cookies. Doesn’t get any better than that!
We always conclude the year with our Awards and Scholarships party, which is truly where we see the growth of the program. We see more families getting involved with their kids. More high school graduates are entering college. There’s a belief among the kids and their families that they can and will get educated.
EE’s first two college graduates, Marlene and Nik (both UCSD graduates), gave impassioned talks to the group at this year’s party. They spoke of where their lives were headed before EE and of their great appreciation to everyone who supported them, emotionally and financially, through high school and college. And they committed their personal help to the younger ones -- paying it forward.
This growth over the years is directly related to the generous support from each of you. With your donated time, you show the kids and their parents that someone in their lives cares about them and has expectations of them. With your donated funds, you provide the opportunity to help these kids excel and move their lives in a more positive direction.
Please visit our photo gallery of all the awards and scholarships we gave out at the party.
Thanks so much for your continuing support of the kids, and we all wish you a wonderful holiday and happy 2017.
P.S. (from Lee) Last Tuesday Cherie was honored by the San Bernardino Superintendent of Schools with an award he created several years ago called “Making Hope Happen,” that he’d only awarded twice before. After her acceptance remarks, Cherie brought up five of our college kids, as an inspiration to all the teachers in the room never to give up on their at-risk students. From left to right, below:
Dr. Harold Vollkommer, Deputy Superintendent, San Bernardino City Unified School District
. Tammy Patterson, freshman, Cal State Riverside
. John Alvarez, freshman, Cal Baptist
. Archi Lai, junior, UCLA
. Isi Ibarra, sophomore, CC Riverside
. Nik Keller, UCSD Class of 2014
. Dr. Dale Marsden, Superintendent, San Bernardino City Unified School District
. The Coach