Circus Vargas - The Big One is Back!

Circus Vargas Release  |  2018-09-21

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - The Big One is Back! Circus Vargas Delivers the Ultimate Entertainment Extravaganza for 2018! Debuting their latest, new and amazing animal-free production in Citrus Heights, the much-anticipated tour begins September 20th and runs through October 14th with stops in Roseville and Folsom!

Always fun for the entire family, Circus Vargas’ incredible new production highlights an amazing cast of world renowned performers! Death- Defying Acrobats, Daredevils, Flying Trapeze Artists, Jugglers, Contortionists, Comedians, Clowns, Motorcycles and much, much, more!

Get ready to unleash your imagination and discover a world of pure circus magic and wonderment under the Big Top, where memories are made and cherished for a lifetime!

Join us for a swashbuckling circus spectacular, with this year’s theme “Dreaming of Pirates!” A fantastic voyage of nonstop action and adventure guaranteed to thrill and enchant children of all ages! Prepare to witness the impossible and experience the unforgettable!

Circus Vargas’ Dreaming of Pirates… A true circus treasure!

Arrive 45 minutes early for an entertaining, interactive pre-show celebration, where kids can create their own magic under the big top, learning circus skills such as juggling, balancing and more! Meet and mingle with the entire cast after each performance. Capture the fun by posing for pics or selfies with your favorite cast members, all part of an unforgettable Circus Vargas experience!
 

Ticket Information: General admission tickets start at $15 for children and $25 for adults.
For Circus Vargas performance dates, times and to purchase tickets, visit  www.circusvargas.com, call 877-GOTFUN-1 (877-468-3861) or visit the box office at each location.

Follow Circus Vargas on Facebook and Twitter for updates, discounts and behind the scenes video.

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5th Annual Zumbathon Fires up a Party for a Cause

Story and photos by Trina L. Drotar  |  2018-09-20

The Firefighters Burn Institute provides many services for fire victims of all ages, including firefighters and children. Firefighters Kids Camp and Little Heroes Camp provide nurturing environments where young burn survivors can be active, do crafts, and have fun.

ORANGEVALE, CA (MPG) - Orangevale Community Center was electric Sunday morning, August 26 as more than 200 men, women, and children filled the gymnasium for a two hour Zumba marathon to raise funds for the Firefighters Burn Institute’s Youth Firesetter Program. With fourteen fully energized instructors from the region on stage to guide, instruct, and inspire, the crowd sweated and burned calories from the 10 a.m. start until noon. “Zumba Love,” “Peace Love Zumba,” “Make It Happen,” “Free Zumba,” and “Zumba Boss” were some of the slogans on shirts. Red was the color of the day and fun was the attitude.

Lorie Valdez-Hobart, the event’s instructor coordinator and Zumba guru, reminded the group of the four rules of Zumba. “Let go,” she said. “Let everything go that’s bothering you. Two, keep it safe.” She reminded dancers to take breaks and keep hydrated. Water bottles lined the walls while the gym shimmied and rocked to the sounds of Reggae and Latin rhythms and a touch of hip hop. Every so often, the instructors would slow things down so dancers could towel off beads of sweat and bring heart rates down just a bit.

“There are no wrong moves in Zumba,” Valdez-Hobart shouted to the audience who returned the shout. “Have fun!” And the party began in earnest with that last rule. Instructors rotated and brought his or her personal style to the party. Dancers heeded the rules. Valdez-Hobart has been hosting the Zumbathon since 2013 when she was first contacted.

“I love doing this event!” said Valdez-Hobart, saying how “empowering it is to be able to bring over 200 people together through Zumba to raise money for such an amazing organization!”

The Firefighters Burn Institute provides many services for fire victims of all ages, including firefighters and children. Firefighters Kids Camp and Little Heroes Camp provide nurturing environments where young burn survivors can be active, do crafts, and have fun. Firefighter Robert Knaggs praised the camps and the opportunity for children to be outdoors safely. “They don’t cool off as well after being burned,” he said.

The Youth Firesetters Program offers a range of services to youth and their families. “We help the children build self-esteem,” said programs manager Kara Garrett, who works with youth as young as five in weekly classes to help them learn how to turn themselves around.

The program includes a nightly dinner, the opportunity to receive mental health and social services for the child and family, and requires the students to find a volunteer opportunity in the community and sign a note “promising to make the world a better place,” added Garrett.

Several firefighters, including some new to the field, were on hand to talk with, sell raffle tickets, take photos with, and support the event which has grown during its five years and is expected to return next August.

There are many ways to support the Firefighters Burn Institute including its annual “Fill the Boot for Burns” boot drive fundraisers and the 5th Alarm Chili Cook Off at California Automobile Museum on Saturday, October 20 from 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. For additional information, visit https://www.ffburn.org or www.firesetter.ffburn.org.

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Cake4Kids Bakes in Sacramento

Story and photos by Trina L. Drotar  |  2018-09-20

In 2010, Cake4Kids was born. Only thirteen cakes were baked and delivered that year. Fast forward eight years when more than 10,000 cakes have been baked and delivered by volunteers as far south as San Diego. Above, Alyssa Van Hofwegen (left) and Mary Barnes show of a delicious example of one of the cakes.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - A baker’s dozen is thirteen as the cake enthusiasts who attended Cake4Kids’ orientation at Arcade library on Saturday, August 18 know. This second orientation in the Sacramento region for the Sunnyvale-based nonprofit drew bakers of all backgrounds and ages hailing from Carmichael, Arden Arcade, Rancho Cordova, Elk Grove, Rancho Murieta and beyond to learn more about Cake4Kids.

Mary Barnes, Cake4Kids’ Sacramento ambassador, led the hour long program. Barnes is a Sacramento native who first discovered the group when she lived in San Francisco. When she returned to Sacramento to pursue her legal career she wanted to bring the program with her and spoke about why she chose the eastern part of Sacramento.

“We thought about logistics,” she said, “An area where there were a good number of residential areas to pull volunteers from.”

This area, she explained, is close to freeways, homes, several nonprofits serving the demographic that Cake4Kids supports – homeless, recent immigrants, those in foster care, and victims of human trafficking – and it doesn’t cost money for parking so that left downtown and midtown out of the running.

“It is supported by Carmichael, east Sacramento, Sac State students, and ARC students. We thought it was a good location to start because of all of those factors.”

In addition to being the nonprofit’s Sacramento ambassador and tackling the job of finding volunteers, contacting agencies, and filling requests, Barnes, like other volunteers, works full time. She is also a volunteer baker and delivered the first cake in Sacramento to Opening Doors, an organization that serves individuals and families escaping human trafficking and refugees new to the area. She baked a vegan banana cake for a boy and decorated the cake with a racecar theme, complete with toy cars atop a protective layer of marzipan, and topped with vegan chocolate frosting.

“We have several requests for vegan cakes from this organization.  We’re challenging our bakers right away,” said Barnes, adding that all requests had been claimed and filled since the first orientation in July with twenty attendees.

In 2010, Cake4Kids was born. Only thirteen cakes were baked and delivered that year. Fast forward eight years when more than 10,000 cakes have been baked and delivered by volunteers as far south as San Diego. The nonprofit also serves Fresno, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, and five other California counties. Each cake is prepared from scratch especially for the child, decorated, packaged in a cake box, and delivered to the requesting agency. Although volunteers never meet the children, they often receive thanks from the children or, in some cases, from the parents or caregivers.

Before volunteer bakers can claim cakes, they must attend a mandatory orientation where they’ll learn about the organization, the demographic served, logistics, and resources. One of the volunteer benefits is that each baker may take cake decorating classes and be reimbursed for up to $100.00 each year. The ability to be a fabulous decorator is not a requirement, although some cakes are quite lavish. Each cake, she added, must have the child’s name.

During the orientation, Barnes said that 60,000 children are in foster care and only 5% between 15 and 18 years of age are adopted in California. Nearly 30 percent of children are homeless in the United States, and Barnes referenced the thousands of U.S. based human trafficking cases annually. These are some of the at-risk children Cake4Kids serves.

Julie Eades, the organization’s executive director, attended the inaugural orientation in July and said in a telephone interview that, “When you’re on or near the poverty line, a cake might not be the thing you choose to spend your money on. We talk about the fact that these children get moved from home to home and sometimes they don’t get any birthday celebrations. Not because nobody cares. It’s just one thing extra that people caring for them have to think about.”

Cake4Kids serves children and young adults up to the age of 24 and Eades said that some children as old as twenty have never had a cake before the one baked and delivered by a volunteer. She also said that the older children are extremely appreciative of the cake made just for them. Everyone should feel special one day a year.

Men, women, and children 16 years and older interested in baking cakes and bringing joy to a child should sign up to be a volunteer on the organization’s website. Sacramento orientations will be held through December at Arcade and Arden-Dimick libraries. The goal is to have 100 volunteers on board. On October 20 and December 22, orientations will be held at Arcade library on Marconi from 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. On November 10, Arden-Dimick will host from 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. The September orientation date and location has not been set. For additional information, visit www.cake4kids.org. 

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Four Candidates Look to Secure Two Open Seats

CITRUS HEIGHTS, CA (MPG) - On August 30, the 2018 San Juan Candidate Forum was held at Citrus Heights City Hall. Four candidates are vying for two open seats on the school board of the San Juan Unified School District. The candidates are incumbent Mike McKibben and newcomers Myel Jenkins, Magali Kincaid, and Zima Creason (who was unable to attend the forum).

The candidates spoke passionately about their reasons for pursuing a board seat. The event was not a debate, but rather an informational forum giving candidates the opportunity to share their views and educational priorities with district voters.

Myel Jenkins has experience as a manager in community foundations and non-profits serving teens and their families. She is also an experienced district volunteer who spent a lot of time in the classroom and in PTA leadership roles. Jenkins started attending board meetings in 2013 after participating in focus groups of African American families for the Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP), which provides additional support to the highest-needs kids in the district. Jenkins served on the LCAP since 2014 and termed out last year. She also served on the Sexual and Reproductive Health Curriculum Choice Committee and on the Superintendent Parent Advisory Committee.

Jenkins believes the district needs to resolve the achievement gap since not all students are succeeding. She stressed the importance of responding to the changing demographics and the shifting enrollment cycles in the district. Jenkins suggests a multi-tiered approach focused on increasing early-education opportunities to make sure students are kindergarten ready and to create more pathways to prepare students for success.

Jenkins said, “I’m running because San Juan is important to me as a parent and as a community member. I’m running as a parent voice, advocating for all of our kids in San Juan and ensuring that no matter what your zip code is that your child has access to high-quality education.”

Magali Kincaid strongly believes that every student deserves a quality education. As a college and law school graduate, she is an example of the achievements that are possible when students are given the motivation and confidence they need to succeed. Kincaid has volunteered in the classroom and been involved in PTA events and school site councils. She was appointed to the Curriculum, Standards, and Instruction Committee. She also served on the LCAP Strategic Planning Committee.

Kincaid said that the district needs to do more to address issues affecting vulnerable groups (such as students with disabilities, students of color, foster youth, and homeless youth) so they don’t fall behind. She explained that there is more diversity in the district so there is a need to create meaningful partnership with students, parents, and communities so that all students are represented. She believes the district needs to provide opportunities for students to learn in many ways in order to reach all the diverse students in the district.

As an elected official, Kincaid believes it would be her moral responsibility to be both transparent and accountable to the students and the community. She stated, “I believe that our students are owed a quality education. I believe that education is not only a civil right, but a human right. And I fight every single day as an advocate of education. And I work hard to make sure that barriers to students, of all backgrounds, are broken down to make sure that our students are succeeding…We owe that to all of our students.”

Incumbent Mike McKibben is a former teacher and has spent 15 years volunteering in district classrooms. He participated in school site councils and worked on the Second Step anti-bullying campaign within the district. He has served on the Superintendent Parent Advisory Committee; the Curriculum, Standards, and Instruction Committee; and the Strategic Planning Committee. For the last four years he has been a SJUSD board member and has served as president, vice president, and clerk. McKibben said that his greatest accomplishment on the board is the upward trajectory in the district’s graduation rates, test scores, literacy rates, and participation in the visual and performing arts.

McKibben said that students in vulnerable groups feel marginalized and the district needs to ensure all students feel welcome and supported.  He believes the district needs to address the high rate of suspensions by adopting alternatives such as restorative justice, cooling-off periods, and other options to keep kids in the classroom. McKibben’s priorities are making sure students feel welcome and that they know they need to make a commitment to their education.

McKibben stated, “My job as a school board member is to be the toughest question asker that I can be, to try to find out what is the right policy, what is the right way…I want to be a very careful steward of our public funds… It is important and incumbent on board members to make sure that our dollars are spent as wisely as possible. And finally, I want to be a roving catalyst: the idea of trying to find out the best ideas and put them into place so our kids can grow and thrive and find their passion.”

If you would like to watch the forum, it is available online at Youtube.com by searching “San Juan Candidate Forum 2018.”

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Capital Airshow Fun

By MPG Staff  |  2018-09-20

Established in 2004, the California Capital Airshow plans and operates the exciting, family-friendly annual event designed to honor the Sacramento region’s rich aviation heritage and veterans while using the power and magic of flight to inspire young people. Visit www.californiacapitalairshow.com for tickets and more information.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - The California Capital Airshow is just around the corner as excitement and anticipation continue to build. Mather Airport will play host to the world famous airshow on the weekend of September 21-23 with thousands on hand to witness one spectacular show after another.

Among the must see shows on display will be: the Beale Air Force Base U-2 Dragon Lady & T-38 Talons, who have been keeping a watchful eye on the world from their base not too far north of Mather Airport are America’s aerial super sleuths from the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, Beale Air Force Base.

The B-17 Flying Fortress and P-51 Mustangs will make for a tough decision as many will say it was the B-17 Flying Fortress that brought Nazi Germany to its knees, while others say it was the P-51 Mustang that allowed it to get to and from its target. See both and decide for yourself!

USAF F-25 Lighting II Heritage Flight Team will showcase America’s 5th generation air dominance fighter and attack aircraft while demonstrating its awesome capabilities then form up for a historic flight with its namesake, the iconic WWII P-38 Lightning.

The Shockwave Jet Truck custom built race truck is equipped with three huge jet engines producing 21,000 lbs. of thrust which easily propel the vehicle to speeds over 350 mph.

Royal Canadian Air Force CF-18 Hornet Demo will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of NORAD. This jet will amaze American audiences with an extremely aggressive demo flown by our friendly allies to the north.

The California Air National Guard F-15 Eagle is still undefeated in air-to-air combat with more than 100 aerial combat victories, the 9G pulling, 58,000 lbs. of thrust pushing, Mach 2.5 capable world-favorite fighter will bring the noise and speed.

USAF Thunderbirds Air Demonstration Squadron: America’s Ambassadors in Blue perform all around the world, displaying the pride, precision and professionalism of American Airmen while flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon, knows as the Viper!

Weekend Bundle General Admission Tickets – 3 Days of Airshow Fun
The Weekend Ticket Bundle offers one adult general admission, plus four youth tickets to the magical night show and concert on Friday, September 21, but also one adult general admission, plus four youth tickets to the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds-headlined airshows on Saturday, September 22 and Sunday, September 23.

Saturday and Sunday performances will take place from approximately 11:30AM-4:00PM.

Established in 2004, the California Capital Airshow 501(c)3 plans and operates the exciting, family-friendly annual event designed to honor the Sacramento region’s rich aviation heritage and veterans while using the power and magic of flight to inspire young people. CCA gives back to the community through scholarships, charitable group donations and exciting educational youth programming throughout the year.

Visit www.californiacapitalairshow.com for tickets and more information.

Source: California Capital Airshow

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Anything is Possible

Story by Michael Cella  |  2018-09-20

Sacramento’s chapter of Ainsley’s Angels is in its third year, founded and directed by Russ Howell. Photo courtesy Ainsley’s Angels

Ainsley’s Angels Inspires Hope

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Ainsley’s Angels is a national nonprofit organization aimed at servicing the special needs community through their race series, consisting of athlete riders and runners who participate in races across 30 states and over 60 cities.

The inspiration for all this is Ainsley, the daughter of Marine Corps Major Kim and Lori Rossiter. Before turning four, Ainsley was diagnosed with Infantile Neuroaxonal Dystrophy (INAD), an extremely rare terminal illness that slowly causes global paralysis. Most children diagnosed with INAD pass on before reaching ten years of age, as there is no cure or treatment to help slow down this very progressive and terminal disease. Ainsley passed away in 2016 at the age of 13, but not before she completed over 100 races, including nearly 20 half-marathons.

Sacramento’s chapter of Ainsley’s Angels is in its third year, founded and directed by Russ Howell – the organization uses the title “ambassador” rather than chapter president. Howell identifies as a lifelong endurance athlete. He undertook his first 100 mile bike ride at 12, ran track in high school, and stayed in shape in his adult life through a stint in the Army where he was a member of a COLT team deployed to Kosovo. In 2010, Howell and his wife had a son born with serious medical complications and he stopped participating in endurance activities. When his son passed away shortly before his second birthday, Howell got back into running as form of escape and therapy. Running helped him keep centered and deal with grief.

A year later, Howell’s second child was born. As a baby shower gift, his family pitched in and got him a very nice running stroller. From then on, Howell, now an accountant, put in twenty to thirty miles a week with his son. Time passed, and eventually his son grew too big to fit in strollers, but Howell was eager to keep up with his running. One day, Howell came across an article on Ainsley's Angels in Running World, and sent an email to the president of the organization. Sacramento has a vibrant running vibe, with many races in the area, he told her. It would be a great area for the organization to expand and a perfect way for him to take his running to the next level and give something back.

Howell started the new Sacramento chapter from ground zero and began fundraising, recruiting members, reaching out to race directors, and getting the Ainsley’s Angels name out to local hospitals and care centers. Thanks to Howell’s connections within the racing community and the people he met while caring for his first son’s health complications, the group was immediately accepted and progress quickly snowballed. Today there are close to 200 members, ranging from as young as five years old to two adult riders who are in their thirties. The group has also raised enough money to purchase eleven racing chairs for its riders to keep and use with their families.

“Ainsley’s Angels taught me that you don't need to run, or even walk, to be an athlete,” says adult rider Emily Crosgrove. “What's more important is having the will to get out there.”

The organization provides a 100% free service to the disabled community, which is no easy feat – racing chairs can coast nearly $5,000.  There are three levels of chairs which vary depending on the age, size, and disability of the rider. Every chair has three wheels and a fixed front wheel, which provides stability and keeps the chairs from going off course.

“The smiles, the celebration, the joy, that’s what it’s all about,” says Howell. “To see that level of excitement for people that would never be able to experience a race, showing up to the something like the California International marathon (one of Ainsley’s partners) surrounded by 10,000 amazing athletes. It takes them out of their world.”

Sacramento’s Angels are set to run their first ultra-marathon in November, the 200-mile Napa RAGNAR relay that runs from SF up the coast and back down to finish in Napa. Six athletes and two riders will participate.

“There's no better feeling than the wind in my hair as I glide through a sea of fast moving bodies, encouraging stagers to never give up,” Crosgrove added. “If myself and my team could be out there on the road, then anything is possible.”

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Cake4Kids Bakes in Sacramento

Story and photos by Trina L. Drotar  |  2018-08-31

Alyssa Van Hofwegen (L) and Mary Barnes show off a delicious example of one of the cakes.

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - A baker’s dozen is thirteen as the cake enthusiasts who attended Cake4Kids’ orientation at Arcade library on Saturday, August 18 know. This second orientation in the Sacramento region for the Sunnyvale-based nonprofit drew bakers of all backgrounds and ages hailing from Carmichael, Arden Arcade, Rancho Cordova, Elk Grove, Rancho Murieta and beyond to learn more about Cake4Kids.

Mary Barnes, Cake4Kids’ Sacramento ambassador, led the hour long program. Barnes is a Sacramento native who first discovered the group when she lived in San Francisco. When she returned to Sacramento to pursue her legal career she wanted to bring the program with her and spoke about why she chose the eastern part of Sacramento.

“We thought about logistics,” she said, “An area where there were a good number of residential areas to pull volunteers from.”

This area, she explained, is close to freeways, homes, several nonprofits serving the demographic that Cake4Kids supports – homeless, recent immigrants, those in foster care, and victims of human trafficking – and it doesn’t cost money for parking so that left downtown and midtown out of the running.

“It is supported by Carmichael, east Sacramento, Sac State students, and ARC students. We thought it was a good location to start because of all of those factors.”

In addition to being the nonprofit’s Sacramento ambassador and tackling the job of finding volunteers, contacting agencies, and filling requests, Barnes, like other volunteers, works full time. She is also a volunteer baker and delivered the first cake in Sacramento to Opening Doors, an organization that serves individuals and families escaping human trafficking and refugees new to the area. She baked a vegan banana cake for a boy and decorated the cake with a racecar theme, complete with toy cars atop a protective layer of marzipan, and topped with vegan chocolate frosting.

“We have several requests for vegan cakes from this organization.  We’re challenging our bakers right away,” said Barnes, adding that all requests had been claimed and filled since the first orientation in July with twenty attendees.

In 2010, Cake4Kids was born. Only thirteen cakes were baked and delivered that year. Fast forward eight years when more than 10,000 cakes have been baked and delivered by volunteers as far south as San Diego. The nonprofit also serves Fresno, Marin, Monterey, Napa, San Mateo, and five other California counties. Each cake is prepared from scratch especially for the child, decorated, packaged in a cake box, and delivered to the requesting agency. Although volunteers never meet the children, they often receive thanks from the children or, in some cases, from the parents or caregivers.

Before volunteer bakers can claim cakes, they must attend a mandatory orientation where they’ll learn about the organization, the demographic served, logistics, and resources. One of the volunteer benefits is that each baker may take cake decorating classes and be reimbursed for up to $100.00 each year. The ability to be a fabulous decorator is not a requirement, although some cakes are quite lavish. Each cake, she added, must have the child’s name.

During the orientation, Barnes said that 60,000 children are in foster care and only 5% between 15 and 18 years of age are adopted in California. Nearly 30 percent of children are homeless in the United States, and Barnes referenced the thousands of U.S. based human trafficking cases annually. These are some of the at-risk children Cake4Kids serves.

Julie Eades, the organization’s executive director, attended the inaugural orientation in July and said in a telephone interview that, “When you’re on or near the poverty line, a cake might not be the thing you choose to spend your money on. We talk about the fact that these children get moved from home to home and sometimes they don’t get any birthday celebrations. Not because nobody cares. It’s just one thing extra that people caring for them have to think about.”

Cake4Kids serves children and young adults up to the age of 24 and Eades said that some children as old as twenty have never had a cake before the one baked and delivered by a volunteer. She also said that the older children are extremely appreciative of the cake made just for them. Everyone should feel special one day a year.

Men, women, and children 16 years and older interested in baking cakes and bringing joy to a child should sign up to be a volunteer on the organization’s website. Sacramento orientations will be held through December at Arcade and Arden-Dimick libraries. The goal is to have 100 volunteers on board. On October 20 and December 22, orientations will be held at Arcade library on Marconi from 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. On November 10, Arden-Dimick will host from 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. The September orientation date and location has not been set. For additional information, visit www.cake4kids.org.

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