Not all angels wear white. The Chloe’s Crew Angels will be making tracks in pink T-shirts and running shoes on Sunday morning, Jan. 19, at the 2014 Carlsbad Half Marathon.
Chloe’s Crew is a running team for the Carlsbad-based Chloe Nichols Foundation, one of 21 charities raising money in the 13.1-mile race, which Tri-City Medical Center is sponsoring this weekend along with the Carlsbad Marathon. Together, the two races will draw more than 10,000 runners from around the world.
The Chloe Nichols Foundation raises money for arts-themed college scholarships. The nonprofit was started four years ago by Carlsbad residents Dharma and Tim Nichols in memory of their 8-year-old daughter, Chloe, who died in August 2009.
The second-grader was taking the anti-seizure prescription drugDepakote for a mild form of epilepsy when she died unexpectedly from drug-related complications. Her grieving parents started the running group, and later the foundation, to keep their daughter’s memory alive and to raise awareness about warning labels on prescription drugs with potentially dangerous side effects.
“Chloe was a beautiful, imaginative, creative, sweet, loving girl,” said Dharma Nichols, 44. “When we lost her, we were fumbling around and we didn’t know what to do or where to go. Two months after she died we started running. For all of us, it was a good and a healing thing we could do in her name and her honor.”
This will be the fifth year that Chloe’s Crew — a loose-knit collection of family, friends and well-wishers — will run in the half marathon. Seventy club members are registered to run the course, which (like the 26.2 mile marathon) begins and ends near the Westfield Plaza Camino Real mall. Chloe’s Crew members will wear matching T-shirts decorated with small pink hearts. Donors who raise extra money for the foundation are dubbed “angels” and get to run in all-pink T-shirts, because pink was Chloe’s favorite color.
This is the first year the Chloe Nichols Foundation has been recognized as an official charity by race organizers, In Motion Inc. The recognition raises awareness about the groups and it also raises money. Runners who didn’t buy their race bibs in time (the half marathon is sold out and the marathon is 95 percent sold) can still get in by running under the banner of an official charity if they agree to raise at least $500 for that organization. In Motion will also give each recognized charity a donation up to $1,000, said Ellen Larson of In Motion.
The recognition is an important step in the foundation’s long-term growth and stability, said Nichols, a real estate agent who has run the foundation full time as executive director since its founding in late 2010. Her 44-year-old husband Tim, a marketing director with OneHealth in Solana Beach, serves as the foundation’s chief financial officer.
Over the past three years, the foundation has awarded seven college scholarships (from $500 to $1,000 each) to local high school seniors with an interest in the arts. The organization’s fundraising goal for 2014 is $10,000, a target Nichols said she expects to meet, thanks to money raised at this weekend’s race and the foundation’s sponsorship of the annual KidsFest San Diego event May 17-18 at NTC Liberty Station in Point Loma.
Nichols said she wants the Chloe Nichols Foundation to carry on as an advocacy group, encouraging parents to go online and carefully read and research the “black box” warning labels for drugs prescribed to their children. The warnings outlined in a black box are the strongest warnings the FDA requires and relate to drugs that have significant risks. Nichols said knowing that other families may be spared the heartbreak she, her husband and their 9-year-old daughter Taylor experienced is a great comfort.
“By word-of-mouth advocacy, we do feel that this has saved lives,” she said. “Nothing can make up for the loss of Chloe, but it brings her family peace and it brings us a measure of joy to know that her potential lives on in some of these children getting scholarships in her name.”
2014 Tri-City Medical Center Carlsbad Marathon & Half Marathon
When: Sunday, Jan. 19. Marathon begins at 6:15 a.m. First wave of 7 waves for the half marathon begin at 7:45 a.m.
Where: Westfield Plaza Camino Real, 2525 El Camino Real, Carlsbad