After eight years, an annual run held in honor of Chelsea King will come to an end, the teen’s family announced Monday.
San Diegans have shown up to support the King family for years after Chelsea, a high school senior, was attacked and killed while out on a run in February 2010. The foundation created in Chelsea’s name also held an annual home run tourney and more recently, launched a golf and poker classic.
The Kings said the foundation would no longer be organizing the events but will instead focus on advocacy.
"As beautiful as each of these events and accomplishments are, they come with a toll," Kelly and Brent King shared in a written statement. "There is always a balance now in our lives that has pain on one side, and joy on the other. It never goes away. It’s the paradigm of loss."
Chelsea’s Light Foundation will continue its Sunflower Scholarship program which has awarded more than $650,000 to students who embody the "service over self" – traits that Chelsea lived by, her family has said.
The non-profit’s goal is to support youth and spread positive change in the community.
NBC 7 was the television media partner for the Finished Chelsea’s Run event. Our NBC 7 team participated in the run and was there in support of participants and Chelsea’s loved ones.
Like many San Diegans, we were shocked by the high-profile case.
Chelsea was running in Rancho Bernardo Community Park when she was attacked and killed. The Poway High School senior’s body was found five days later in the Lake Hodges area.
On May 15, 2010, her killer was given a life sentence without the possibility of parole for Chelsea’s murder, as well as that of Escondido teenager Amber Dubois, 14, who vanished in a similar, disturbing case in February 2009.
The following year, the King family worked to pass Chelsea’s Law in California, which enhances criminal sentences for violent sexual offenders who commit crimes against children. Brent King continues to work with other states to enact similar laws.
"Not only do we share how California adopted it, we also share how it’s been used. And then we break it down into the metrics of what it’s going to cost their state and how much it’s going to protect their kids," Brent told NBC 7 in an interview earlier this year. The Kings said Finish Chelsea’s Run has grown about three times in size since the event began eight years ago. In March, they said they were often overwhelmed by the love and support San Diegans display at the event.
"You know, it is bittersweet, there’s no doubt about that," Kelly told NBC 7. "But I see my daughter’s smile in every kid that’s out there. Our daughter was this beautiful ray of sunshine and I see that in every child’s face."
Thanks to the people who participate in Finish Chelsea’s Run, the Kings said they’ve been able to provide $500,000 in college scholarships via the Chelsea’s Light Foundation. Brent said 75 kids are attending college thanks to the run.
Read the entire statement from Kelly and Brent King below:
As we went through the shattering revelation in late February of 2010 that our little girl would never come home, you wrapped your arms and hearts around us. You helped us find the strength to draft and enact laws that now provide protection for more than 17 million kids. You helped us create the sunflower scholarship program which has awarded over $650,000 to amazing students heading off to college, as Chelsea dreamt of. You have run with us in our annual 5k, Finish Chelsea’s Run, and played baseball at our annual Home Run for Chelsea tourney. You have provided us the light and the strength to move mountains.
As beautiful as each of these events and accomplishments are, they come with a toll. There is always a balance now in our lives that has pain on one side, and joy on the other. It never goes away. It’s the paradigm of loss. With this said, we are choosing to change the way Chelsea’s Light Foundation accomplishes its mission.
Going forward, we have decided to sunset these “annual events” and, starting October 1st, we will shift our focus to advocacy. We will be the voice for our nation’s children---in every State Capital building, in Congress, in the Senate, and in the White House. It’s based on the concept of a membership organization much like the Sierra Club that protects trees or the Surfrider foundation that protects coastlines, but we will be legislating laws to protect our children. We’re calling it “Protect the Joy.” Both a rally cry and a mission statement in one, but most importantly it’s a reminder of childhood’s essence: joy. Finally, there will be a voice to protect it.
Chelsea’s Light will still continue to shine bright each day through our Sunflower Scholarship program and Joie De Vivre grants and will constantly and consistently work to protect children from the harm that befell Chelsea.
As we kick off the creation of this exciting new venture, we’ll need your support. Instead of attending Finish Chelsea’s Run or playing in Home Run for Chelsea, we ask that you channel your tremendous passion into helping build out an organization that our children desperately need and deserve. If you’d like to learn more or register your support, please visit www.protectthejoy.org. We humbly ask for your patience as we assemble the foundational blocks and embark on this new and necessary journey to “Protect the Joy” of all children.
Thank you for always standing with us, holding us up when we felt like falling, and hugging us when we needed it most.
Brent and Kelly