A group of devoted parents — determined to see the Spirit Run see its 28th year — has saved the run that seemed doomed a few months ago.
Now called the Newport-Mesa Spirit Run, the event no longer will be organized by the five elementary schools that feed into Corona del Mar High School, but by a newly formed nonprofit.
"We heard it wouldn't take place if somebody didn't do something," said Diane Daruty, a parent who led the efforts to revitalize the Spirit Run. "We are just trying to keep it alive."
Daruty came up with the idea to change the focus from a fundraiser for five schools to a community event that will involve students throughout the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.
The Spirit Run, which winds on a course around Fashion Island, previously was organized by and raised money for Harbor View, Andersen, Eastbluff, Newport Coast and Lincoln elementary schools. Each school was responsible for $20,000 in sponsorship money to cover the costs of running the event. But schools saw dwindling returns despite hundreds of volunteer hours, leading all but Eastbluff to decide this fall to drop out.
The new Spirit Run will be organized by a race management company paid with corporate donations. Students throughout the district are invited to attend, and any money left over will be divided among schools that had a minimum participation. The board has not determined how to share those funds.
Debra Miller was watching football with her family in her Corona del Mar home last weekend when a public service announcement played. Across town, her friend Mindy Cameron also was glued to the television.
"Duchenne," said Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews. "Most of us have never even heard this word. For others, this word has turned their lives upside-down…"
"Nothing like this has ever happened for Duchenne," said Cameron of Newport Beach.
"People just stopped in their tracks," Miller added. "Facebook lit up. By the end of the day, I had two calls from parents around the country."
Miller is one of those who had her world turned upside down by Duchenne after learning in 2002 that her only son, now 13, has the disease, the most common and deadly form of muscular dystrophy. The disease has no cure, and historically children with it will die before they leave their teens.
She and her husband, Paul, founded CureDuchenne the following year with the hope to fund medical research to find a cure. But in spite of successful fundraisers that have included mountain climbs and poker tournaments, attracting the attention of Cadillac and the Super Bowl has been the group's most major coup to date.
The relationship began last summer at a party at the Balboa Bay Club, where the Millers joined Cameron, whose 9-year-old son also has Duchenne. The party was a going-away bash for a neighbor moving to Detroit to work as a Cadillac executive, and that night, they discussed ways that Cadillac could one day help the Duchenne cause.
"He said he was going to do something — he just didn't know what," Miller said.
Miller and Cameron said they hoped for the best, maybe a sponsorship of a bike race.
Instead, their friend proposed that Cadillac create a Super Bowl partnership with CureDuchenne. The public service announcements, which will run before college bowl games and during playoff games, are one component of the partnership. Cadillac also has donated about 50 pair of Super Bowl tickets for CureDuchenne to auction as a fundraiser.
Since learning that Cadillac selected CureDuchenne, the two women have been busy meeting with Cadillac and NFL officials. They even flew to Green Bay to watch the filming of the public service announcement.
Miller, Cameron, and their sons will go with their sons to Super Bowl XLV in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and attend parties and receptions to promote CureDuchenne.
A vandal hit Harbor View Elementary, causing $700 in damage earlier this month, according to a police report.
The incident was reported Dec. 23 but occurred between 8 a.m. Dec. 16 and 8:30 a.m. Dec. 17, the day that school broke for winter vacation. Details about the vandalism were not available.
In recent weeks, the neighborhood near the school was hit hard by vandals and thieves. Among the incidents reported were:
• A vehicle burglary with a $1,705 loss in the 2800 block of Harbor View Drive between 11 p.m. and 8 a.m. Dec. 24.
A vehicle vandalism incident with $400 damage in the 900 block of Goldenrod Avenue between 11:30 p.m. Dec. 23 and 10 a.m. Dec. 24.
A grand theft in the 2500 block of Bungalow Place with $1,100 lost that occurred between 7 p.m. Dec. 13 and 5 a.m. Dec. 22.
Corona del Mar High School also was hit by a burglar, a police report states. The incident at the school at 2101 Eastbluff Drive occurred between 9:30 p.m. Dec. 18 and 8 a.m. Dec. 19, reports state, and caused $1,000 in damage with an undetermined loss.