An estimated 8,000 locals gathered in Balboa Park Saturday morning to celebrate the life of late Poway teen Chelsea King by doing something that she loved to do: run.
Registration opened at 6:30 a.m. and the fun run/walk began at 7:30 a.m. at the starting line on 6th Avenue and Palm. The finish line was set up at Balboa Drive, just south of Quince.
The run was followed by a fun-filled family festival that included refreshments, children’s activities and entertainment.
The annual event is a fundraiser for the Chelsea’s Light Foundation’s Sunflower Scholarship Fund, a scholarship program designed to help San Diego youth achieve their academic and community enrichment goals.
The first-ever Finish Chelsea’s Run was organized shortly after 17-year-old Chelsea disappeared on February 25, 2010. The Poway High School cross-country athlete was last seen alive when she went for an after-school run that she would never finish near Rancho Bernardo Community Park.
Her body was discovered March 2, 2010 in the Lake Hodges area. Chelsea had been kidnapped, sexually assaulted and killed by John Gardner, who also confessed to killing 14-year-old local Amber Dubois, who went missing in February 2009.
The violent murders of both teens shook the San Diego community to its core.
In March 2010, a group of runners came together to organize a grassroots run. Their goal was to finish Chelsea’s run through Lake Hodges, take back the park and honor the slain teen.
More than 3,500 people showed up to that first community run. The King Family has been hosting the event annually ever since, now in Balboa Park, a place Chelsea frequently visited.
In 2011, more than 4,500 people participated in the Finish Chelsea’s Run. In 2012, the turnout was just as great, with the run/walk raising $120,000 and providing 11 Sunflower Scholarships for kids through the Chelsea’s Light Foundation.
NBC 7’s Artie Ojeda participated in the 2013 Finish Chelsea’s Run. Ojeda helped with the event and spoke with locals who took part in the run.
For more information about the run and the Chelsea's Light Foundation, click here.