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Kiwanis calling all youngsters for La Jolla competition

Everyone will be a winner at Kiwanis Club of La Jolla’s 19th annual La Jolla Junior Olympics on Sunday at Edwards Stadium at La Jolla High School.

Participating students from all nine public and private elementary schools in the Jewel — The Gillispie School, Bird Rock Elementary, Torrey Pines Elementary, La Jolla Elementary, Stella Maris Academy, The Evans School, The Children’s School, All Hallows Academy and the San Diego French American School — will compete in track and field events. The event is free and is open to students ages 5–12 who attend any of these elementary schools.

“It’s the biggest sports event for children in La Jolla between ages 5 and 12 and we’re expecting over 800 students,” said Kiwanis event chair Avelino Cortina about the Junior Olympics’ significance. “It’s what Kiwanis is all about — giving back to the community, mostly by improving the lives of children. It’s our way of helping the community.”

Just like their adult Olympic counterparts, the three first-place winners in each competition are presented with gold, silver and bronze medals on a reviewing stand. Best of all, medals are draped around winners’ necks by their school principals.

Student Olympians parade to the reviewing stand atop a red-carpeted podium amid full fanfare and music. Each winner’s name, school and event they competed in are announced in the different medal categories for the top three finishers of each heat.

Event check-in starts at 7:15 a.m. with events starting promptly at 8:30 a.m. There is a Fastest Boys relay team race and a Fastest Girls relay team race with one team of four members from each of the participating schools. The event will conclude with races for the Fastest Boy in La Jolla and the Fastest Girl in La Jolla.

A Spirit Award trophy is presented to the school with the highest percentage of their student body participating.

The event was started by Richard “Moon” Mullen, a past La Jolla Kiwanis president, in 1992. Mullen got the idea for the youth competition from observing a similar, family-oriented athletic celebration while on leave with the Navy in Japan. While hiking up an island trail to a volcano, Mullen came upon a small community, Sasebo, with all the villagers down in a valley involved in some activity. Looking closer, he realized they were running track and relay races, with families competing against one another including parents, grandparents and their children, right down to the youngest child.

The Kiwanis Club of La Jolla pays for the event through money raised from various fundraisers, most notably the La Jolla Kiwanis Pancake Day and the La Jolla Half Marathon.

Major event sponsors are Carl and Jeanine Volinski of La Jolla Insurance Services. About 100 volunteers stage the events.

For more information, call Avelino Cortina at (858) 431-6431.