Sunday, April 29, 2012

Improv comedy thrills with wild continuous loop


     “What the heck is going on?”

     That question, among many others, were asked by students in the cafeteria at East Campus, as members of the Valencia Acting Gym performed a surprise live time loop routine.

     “We have no idea what's going to happen here,” said Valencia theater professor, John DiDonna. He organized this event, and has worked before on several other improvisational stunts with his acting students at Rollins College.

     Though it was a planned routine, students involved had to adapt to the situation and maintain any changes that occur if any outsiders get involved. Each of them played a different role that eventually becomes a wild 30 minute routine broken up into five minutes intervals that repeat six times.

     The routine is designed to start off slowly with most bystanders either oblivious or indifferent to what's happening. A few laughed and pointed at the students dressed as pirates and filming a video report about Benjamin Franklin.

     A couple also debated which soft drink to buy -- not out of the ordinary. When the same couple is seen talking about soda 20 minutes later, something is clearly out of the ordinary.

     This only helped to explain the same guy running into the room, jumping around and singing “I ain't no Hollaback Girl.” Cell phone cameras were out recording after the third dancing antic. Amused or angry, the full attention of the cafeteria was focused and confused by this brief buffoonery.

     Other wild moments like a bottle of water being spilled or a touchy guy getting slapped in the face highlighted the half-hour. With all the key moments timed to repeat and occur at different moments, the whole room became a display of zany creativity.

     “It's all about bringing whimsy into everyday life,” said participant, Stephanie Ghirghi. She explained that this was inspired by a similar event performed by the New York based improvisational group “Improv Everywhere.”

     They organize large public displays like people freezing in place at the mall, or dancing to “Thriller” by Michael Jackson. There are countless groups that stage and perform public routines across the nation; now Valencia College is no exception.

     The Valencia Acting Gym is described as an extra acting class that meets for a few hours on Saturday to allow acting students to work on the skills required for public performance. More information can be found at the group's Facebook page.

By James Tutten
info@jamestutten.com

(Published: April 23, 2012 issue of "Valencia Voice" on page 4.)

(All photos by James Tutten)

Water caught mid-splash as several students look on at the commotion.




Acting Gym members debate of what type of drink to purchase as others wait to interrupt them.



Caught just after a very real slap to the face after one group member gets a little touchy with another.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

'Renee' a film focused on real message of help



     The 2012 Florida Film Festival started off with the debut of the new film, “Renee,” based on the true story of Renee Yohe. The film focuses on the message of redemption supported by the non-profit group, “To Write Love on Her Arms.”

     “I didn’t want this film to be about a cutter or an addict, I wanted it to be about this beautiful brilliant woman,” said director, Nathan Frankowski.

     The film takes on the serious issues that Renee endures, such as mental illness, drug abuse, sexual assault, self mutilation and depression. After coming back to her family for help at her lowest point, only to get rejected by her father, Renee is taken under the wing of another recovering addict named David McKenna. He helps Renee get into a rehab center after she endures a tumultuous detoxification by providing her with a safe refuge and guidance.

     Kat Dennings, who plays Renee, does a wonderful job of creating a troubled protagonist that draws the attention of the audience. She passionately conveys the emotions and struggles of coping with addiction, and rebuilding the broken relationships with the people she cares about. But unlike the picturesque Hollywood happy ending, Renee's story ends on the notion of recovery being a daily struggle.

     Moments of music-driven flights of fancy are a featured several times thought the film, as Renee slips on her headphones and her reality is changed. The intimidating halls of her high school become a celebratory music video incorporating the people she encounters as cheering her on.

     It's these moments of fantasy by Renee as a child and young adult, that show off the great special effects work of this film. Cartoon creations come to life on pages she draws on, and the visions of an older Renee dealing with her addictions are represented by an ominous, creeping fog that stalks her during moments of weakness.

     Renee represents the hopeless lost cause with everything working against her. It's only through her own redemption and the continued support of friends and family, that she is able to get her life together and avoid becoming yet another tragic statistic to depression and drug abuse.

     “I love the whimsical and artistic elements of the film,” said Renee Yohe after the film's premiere. “Kat got in my head, and expressed how I experience the world through music and imagination.” Yohe is currently working on her solo music project entitled “BEARCAT,” that starts a national tour this week.


By James Tutten
info@jamestutten.com


(Published: April 18, 2012 issue of "Valencia Voice" on page 10.)


(All photos by James Tutten)


 Director Nathan Frankowski, answers questions about his film 'Renne' after the premier showing.

International fashion, back by popular demand



     The International Fashion Show at UCF returned with its first show in four years. Both traditional and modern fashion styles were displayed from over 14 nations, showcasing different cultures around the world.

     “We worked with several groups in putting this on, and with hard work and determination, we got the event going again,” said Trevor Presaud, SGA executive cabinet member and show co-organizer.

     Members of several different student cultural groups organized the models, clothing, and outfit changes between style sets. Brightly colored patterns and designs going back hundreds of years started the traditional portion of this event perfectly.

     Styles from the countries of India and Iran stood out as the most elaborate in their design and complexity. Tribal African styles from Nigeria and the Caribbean were also another notable contribution with their strong use of colors on richly detailed garments.

     European styles were also featured during the show, starting with three models wearing classic brightly colored and tight fitting french outfits inspired from the 1960s. Next, a fancy kilted skirt was worn by Megan Selva to represent old time Scotland.

     There was also a flamboyant Spanish style dance performance from Jenny and Ernesto Caballeros between the major points in the show. The costumed capes flew and castanetas clacked wildly throughout this fast and exciting transition.

     The second portion celebrated modern fashion from many of the same countries. The models showed pieces that can be bought in any high-end fashion store today. Modern fashion from foreign countries still draws on styles going back to their traditional roots.

     “I think this whole show is very nice and shows a lot of different cultures very well,” said audience member, Lesie Pleasants. Her daughter, Kaitlyn Pleasants, was one of the featured models.

     The show included musical performances by the Flammable Babylon Percussion Ensemble and Florida Tribal Dance group. And after the final walk for all the models, another group from Club Kreyol gave a dance routine displaying provocative dance moves from the Caribbean.

     International foods like Indian chicken tikka and other treats were provided to those in attendance to further the cultural immersion..

     This richly complex groups at UCF successfully showcased much of the cultural diversity that makes up their campus student body. The same groups hope to bring back the event next year and continue this tradition of embracing and celebrating cultures from around the world.


By James Tutten
info@jamestutten.com


(Published: April 18, 2012 issue of "Valencia Voice" on page 14.)  


(All photos by James Tutten)


Modern fashion modeled at the UCF International Fashion Show.




 Two models smile and wave while showing off traditional fashion from Japan.






Several students displayed sets of outfits like this traditional fashion pair from India.



Choral concert selections from Mozart to Adele



     Members of Valencia Singers and Contemporary Ensemble presented a wide variety of music styles at Valencia's Performing Arts Center last week. From classical music by Mozart to a Grammy wining hit by Adele, this concert featured a musical selection spanning over 250 years of history.

     “We have a number of performing ensembles each semester that range from musical theater to rock band,” said Alan Gerber, director of Valencia's vocal /choral program. He has served at Valencia College since 1999.

     This relatively small group of 24 singers blended a rich sound with a soft melancholy feel for songs like “Venti Sancte Spiritus” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and “Requiem” by Eliza Gilkyson. Along with these classics were also two pieces written by Valencia staff members: “I've Known Rivers” by Antonio Brett, and “Olvidando” by Troy Gifford.

     The groups saved the most powerful piece for last, with “Excerpts from Requiem” by Mozart. The striking sound of this juggernaut of classical music filled the theater with pitch perfect harmonies and commanding crescendos. Individual singers would step forward for featured solos through the performance, aided by microphones to give prominence.

     “Mr. Gerber is a great instructor; he has a lot of patience and teaches us so much about being a musician,” said singer, Ryin Ryan. He admits the final piece of music by Mozart was the most challenging for the group, but felt this final performance was their greatest.

     Valencia's Contemporary Ensemble followed the classical portion of the concert with their “Glee” style musical theater showcased by a different group of students.

     Dancing in choreographed routines, the group performed several hit singles like “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder, “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga, and “Rolling In The Deep” by Adele.

     “It was just such a wonderful experience for me, being part of this group,” said first year Valencia music student, Emma Carrion. She is planning on joining the same ensemble in the Fall, and hopes more people get involved with the group for their next performance.

     Audience members were also enthusiastic about the concert production quality and delighted by its range of musical styles. 

     For more information about upcoming performing and general information about the Valencia College performing arts program, visit their website at http://valenciacollege.edu/artsandentertainment/


By James Tutten
info@jamestutten.com


(Published: April 18, 2012 issue of "Valencia Voice" on page 13.)


(Photos by James Tutten)


Members of Valencia Contemporary Ensemble perform hit songs with a musical theater style.
Alan Gerber, Valencia's vocal /choral director, leading the Valencia Singers during the concert.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Orlando Solar Bears unveil new franchise jerseys


     The Orlando Solar Bears debuted their new team jerseys along with the winner of the “Face of the Solar Bears” contest at The Abby in Downtown Orlando. Supporting this announcement was local government officials, team management, former players and fans alike, all hoping for the success of this future team. 

     “It's very exciting to have the Solar Bears introduce their jerseys tonight, we have a great ownership team and high expectations,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. 

     The new team jersey is molded from the old design, but with a much cleaner presentation. Home jerseys are white with teal and purple accent stripes, and away jerseys are purple with teal and white stripes. The new Solar Bear team logo is featured on the front, and the bear paw shoulder pads are also back and redesigned. 

     “It's unbelievable, I wake up every morning and ask why didn’t someone do this sooner. The Solar Bears belong here in Orlando,” said Bob Ohrablo, team co-owner. 

     This new marketing campaign is to support ticket sales leading up to an open house event on April 21. The public is invited into the Amway Center on that day to personally pick out the seats they want to purchase for season tickets.

     Team officials also announced that the winner of the Face of the Solar Bears contest is five-year-old Jayden Belinger. She and 14 other contest finalist will be featured on advertisements around the city.

     Another big step for the Solar Bears will be to announce their affiliation with an NHL partner. From there they will work with their NHL partner to search for a coach until late June or early July, and then start looking for players to prepare for a season which is set to begin in October.

     The team’s return is highly anticipated by local business and government officials looking to get more use of the new Amway Center, and is seen as an investment in the future success of the city. 

     “The Solar Bears are here and we need to be proud of that. By having diversity, we help to make the city more vibrant,” said recently re-elected City Commissioner, Tony Ortiz. 

     High expectations are growing for the Solar Bear’s emergence from their extended hibernation. Fans hope they are hungry for success and ready to show the city what they can do in the East Coast Hockey League. 

By James Tutten 
 info@jamestutten.com 

(Published: April 18, 2012 issue of "Valencia Voice" on page 17.) 

(All photos by James Tutten)



The team announced Jayden Belinger, a 5-year-old girl from Sanford as the, “Face of the Solar Bears.”


Solar Bears alumni goalie Allan Bester (Left) and left wing Bob Joyce (Right) present new home and away jerseys. 

Bill O’Reilly changes style with satirical stand-up



     Fox News broadcaster, Bill O’Reilly, brought a different feel to his live performance at the King Center for the Performing Arts in Melbourne, Fla. This show gave O’Reilly a chance to give his own brand of political satire in a stand-up comedy style, far different from his typical “No Spin Zone” persona.

     In the height of this turbulent political atmosphere with an election process in full swing, people are more interested than ever with the topical issues addressed by Bill on his TV show “The O’Reilly Factor.”

     The normal on-air presence of the no-nonsense journalist, changed during his live performances due to a lack of scrutiny typically seen on his newscast. With a comedic style mirroring that of fellow "Factor" contributor, Dennis Miller, his entire show was one long mix of current topics and wisecracks at the individual or group he mentioned.

     The first target of O'Reilly's criticism was that of the GOP candidates. He detailed the rise and fall of each candidate all while pointing out the good and the bad which each. He would discuss a specific candidate, giving them an insult or two based on all the standard attack points, like Newt Gingrich asking for an open marriage, or Mitt Romney acting like an out of touch elitist strapping dogs to the roof of his car.


     “I think Bill is an entertaining man; when you bring humor into politics it makes everything more enjoyable,” said audience member Gregg Shinn.

     President Obama was also addressed with the same level of positive observations, mixed with a subtle joke or two. He believes that the three secluded debates between the GOP nominee and the president will be the deciding factor for winning over the independent voters in the this year's election. O’Reilly compared past presidential debates and their outcomes to the current assumed nomination of Romney against Obama.

     “He’s fantastic, and I watch his show every day,” said retiree Rose Marie. Many audience members like her enjoyed seeing their favorite TV personality and the no-nonsense style he is known for.


By James Tutten
info@jamestutten.com


(Published: April 11, 2012 issue of "Valencia Voice" on page 12.)


(All photos by James Tutten)


Bill O'Reilly answers audience members questions asked by Public Interest editor for 'Florida Today' Matt Reed. 

Scholar shares personal story of modern Russia



     Steven Cunningham, professor of English as a Second Language at Valencia College,  shared his perceptions of modern Russia, and broke down stereotypes and preconceived notions about the former American adversary. His work with the Fulbright Scholar program gave him the special opportunity to explore another culture as an educational ambassador.

     “Living abroad and learning from a new culture really helps you to learn who you are, and appreciate what you have,” said Cunningham. He spent three months in the small Russian town of Orsk learning everything he could, working with students in a foreign language program teaching English.

     Discrediting preconceived notions about Russia was the first topic discussed at this open lecture. They don’t all drink vodka -- in fact most prefer a warm cup of tea, and though photos do exists on the internet, bears do not randomly roam the streets wherever you go. And though the country has undergone a post-communist identity crisis, they are now reaping the economic benefits of trade with a booming oil industry.

     Cunningham gave a detailed rundown of Russian history as he went on with his presentation. He then spent the majority of the speech discussing living conditions and practical observations of the areas he visited.

     Major shopping outlets that had barren shelves after the 1980s are now packed with high-end merchandise with even more variety than stores in America. The upper-class shoppers at locations like this are starting to reap the benefits of rebounding economics.

     One large issue that Russians are trying to catch up in is the advent of the latest technology. Classrooms in Russian Universities are still using technology from over 20 years ago, and newer devices and networks are not readily available.

     There was even a delegation of Russian educators that came to Valencia in February; to discuss incorporating old teaching programs into a modern school system, and showcase what technology has to offer in the form of online courses and digital textbooks.

     There are also other cultural differences that come across as misunderstanding of intentions. Giving a friendly smile and wave to a total stranger is seen as a fake or condescending gesture. It's seen as normal in their culture to be untrusting of someone you don’t know, especially if they come across as extra nice to you.

     Well, you have got to go to Red Square; that and the Kremlin are the best places to visit in Russia,” said Todd Hunt, the college-wide director of Valencia’s bookstores. Hunt has made several trip to Russia in his lifetime and hails Moscow as the best place for a first-time tourist looking to get the full Russian experience.

     Russian politics is also a hot topic, with the recent and questionable re-election of Vladimir Putin. The last 30 years of Russian leadership was explained, all leading up to this most recent election and why it has inspired protests from Russians, like when voting ballots were being openly changed by election officials.

     To prepare for the cultural and linguistic challenges before his trip, Valencia foreign language student and Russian citizen, Yelena Burkduskaya, helped Cunningham with personal tutoring and advisement.

     “If you are going to travel to another country, you have to be prepared or you will be disappointed,” said Burkduskaya. “It’s a completely different country, like a different planet in a way.”


     Professor Cunningham hopes to continue his work with Fulbright Scholars in the future and continue to explore and interact with foreign cultures. More information on the Fulbright Scholar program can be found on their website at http://www.cies.org/us_scholars.


By James Tutten
info@jamestutten.com


(Published: April 11, 2012 issue of "Valencia Voice" on page 3.


(All photos by James Tutten)


Treats from Russia were provided at this event to give a small taste of another culture.





'Mountain Rose' historical drama blooms into life



     The life story of Rose Anna McCoy is only a footnote in American history, but it’s the focus of screenwriter Stephen DeWoody and his play “Mountain Rose: The Ballet of Rose Anna McCoy.” The play is the winner of the 21st annual Valencia College Florida Playwright Competition.

     The deadly blood rivalry between the Hatfield and McCoy families during the Civil War era serves as the background of the tale. The characters and events are all based on real-life accounts, and authentic dialogue reminiscent of the time connects the story into a conceivable series of events.

     “I’ve researched the families before, and this little gem of a story starring Rose Anna just stuck with me,” said screenwriter Stephen Dewoody. He has written several plays over the years and also was the winner of the same competition in 2010 with his play “Doors.”

     A detailed stage resembling a rustic log cabin in the woods and soft fiddle-driven bluegrass music filled the small Black Box Theater, creating the effect of stepping back in time. A family seated in the front row stated they were reminded by the authentic stage of their family home in Boone, North Carolina.

     Once a locational connection is made, the story focuses the audience's attention on a mysterious illness slowly killing the strong-willed Rose Anna. To further explain this moment and the Hatfield-McCoy feud, a guitar-wielding Balladeer played by Stephen Nettles steps out and addresses the audience with a song and story. He sets the record straight throughout the production during brief moments between scenes while he acts as narrator and gives hints about what is to come.

     “She tries to be a rock for herself because that's the way she has always been,” said Samantha Ann Schwartz, who plays Rose Anna McCoy, whose strong stage presence and wholesome beauty help emphasize both of these qualities in Rose.

     Rose is known by her family and others as tough-as-nails, with a strong will to fight. Strikingly beautiful, she has the attention of most young boys around her town. Her life may have been uneventful and the family feud may have never reached its deadly heights if not for the forsaken love affair Rose engages in with Johnse Hatfield.

     “He does some things that aren't really the best, but I try to portray him in a likeable way,” said Nick Lougheed, who plays Johnse Hatfield. For his first ever public performance, Lougheed seamlessly mastered his lines and movements, and appeared as exceptional as any theater veteran.

     The two quickly fall in love after the charming Johnse connects with Rose on a chance encounter. The young lovebirds both remember feeling something as children when they first meet, and Johnse, worried he would lose Rose, pledges to marry her and speak to both fathers in an attempt to make everything work out.

     Johnse’s father instantly denies this request, saying that no Hatfield will ever marry any McCoy as long as he’s still alive. Knowing partly that Rose’s move isolates her from her family, he does allow Rose to say in their household and even bed with Johnse.

     Rose’s dreams of winning the Hatfield family over are crushed as her and Johnse drift apart after six months. The relationship comes to a traumatic end when Rose catches Johnse shacked up in the barn with her younger cousin Nancy McCoy. A heated fight breaks out between this secret love triangle, and Rose promises to leave Johnse and never come back.

     The ever-persistent Johnse is confronted with a final bombshell when he gives Rose a mountain rose and professes his undying love for her. She used this moment to let Johnse know she is pregnant with his child, and the confused Johnse acts as if he is unsure what he thinks of being a father.

     Members of the McCoy family come to arrest Johnse and take him off to be hung for crimes he allegedly committed. The bright mountain rose falls to the ground as Rose Anna rushes off on horseback during the dead of night to warn the Hatfield family and safe Johnse’s life.

     This was seen as the ultimate insult by her family and Johnse replayed this brave act by leaving Rose once again, and married the same young temptress Nancy McCoy that cause their initial separation. Rose later lost her baby after a few months of life due to complications from a premature birth. Johnse never once came to see his daughter or ever speak with Rose again.

     More tragedy comes amid family fighting, leading to the deaths of members of both families. Rose Anna remains in bed until she dies at a relatively young age. The high emotions of this tale are reminiscent of classic Shakespearean tragedies like “Romeo and Juliet.”

     “The actors are creating these roles for the first time, and there's a lot of excitement in that,” said Julia Gagne, the plays director. She has overseen this playwright competition from the beginning, and loves giving opportunities for individuals looking to get involved with productions and Valencia in the future.

By James Tutten
info@jamestutten.com

(Published: April 11, 2012 issue of "Valencia Voice" on page 11.)

(All photos courtesy of Drew Hines)

A heated love triangle develops between the lead cast members, driving the young lovers apart.






The bold set is detailed to look straight out of the Civil War era, down to the wall mounted rifle.





Astronomy enthusiast show new GPS technology



     A free exhibition of several different telescopes and other observational devices was provided last week at Valencia's West Campus by members of the Central Florida Astronomical Society. Those that attended were treated to detailed views of solar objects through telescopes incorporating the latest technology.


     “It's much easier for astronomers starting out today,” said organizer, Gordon Cain. “When it comes to astronomy, there’s an app for that.”


     Smartphone Apps like StarMap for iPhone and Google Sky Maps for Android make tracking the sky for solar bodies more accessible for even the most novice observer. Your phone can tell you when and where planets and stars can be seen and give a real-time view of objects in the celestial sphere, regardless of the time of day.


     Some telescopes now have incorporated GPS location tracking devices that have automated systems that run through an impressive triangulation alignment process.


     After being activated and running through a start-up diagnostic, the telescopes then looks for a set of visible stars to determine its precise location on the Earth. Once this is found the telescope can automatically find and track any known solar bodies, and is easily changed between objects with an operator-controlled remote.


     This tracking feature was installed on a $5,000 Meade LX200 12” telescope, which served as the main showpiece at the event. Even as the sun was still out early into the event, this instrument provided a high resolution and detailed image of the moon’s surface. All those that used the device remarked at the powerful magnification and high-quality image presented.


     “It's cool to look at something that is so far away,” said Valencia student Jennifer Quezada. She heard about the viewing event through her astronomy professor, and had never actually looked through a telescope before.


     To give everyone a chance to see multiple solar objects, there were five different devices on display at this gathering. Small manual telescopes and mounted high magnification binoculars gave more opportunity for mass viewings and showed a general progression in telescope technology. Some found it easy to compare different levels of magnification and changes to operating methods on older scopes compared to newer.


     This event gives a great hands-on experience for a science you can't perform in a lab like most,” said Martin Lalanne.


     There are other locations around Central Florida for astronomical observations, like the Crosby Observatory at the Orlando Science Center and the Robinson Observatory located at the University of Central Florida.


     Students just getting involved with the field of astronomy are entering at fresh time as far as discovery goes. NASA's Kepler satellite started looking for dimming stars to find planets in other solar systems just over three years ago. With thousands of possible planets found, and over 60 confirmed, scientists now predict that there are more planets than stars in the known Universe.


By James Tutten
info@jamestutten.com


(Published: April 11, 2012 issue of "Valencia Voice" on page 4.)


(All photos by James Tutten)















Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Annual 5K fundraiser rallied by Orlando's finest


     TheValencia Alumni Association held its annual fund-raising 5K race at West Campus on Saturday April 31. Over 250 runners competed for top placements among different age brackets, with funds raised going to support the criminal justice, firefighter and EMS scholarship programs at Valencia through the Justin Harvey Scholarship.

     “We’ve gone for general scholarships in the past, and we wanted to target specifics this year,” said Barbara Shell, director of community and alumni relations at Valencia. Shell mentioned the death of offers in the Central Florida area in recent years, and felt focusing on this would help bring the law enforcement community out to show support.

     Several uniformed and fully-equipped officers came out to participate in the race this year, along with a large group representing the Valencia Criminal Justice Institute. Sergeant Jason Scott from the Orlando Police Department sang the national anthem right before the race began.

     “It couldn't be a better cause, in light of what's going on in the community,” said Lieutenant Todd Gardinen from the Orange County Sheriff's Department. The officer mentioned the deadly shooting two years ago of Deputy Brandon Coates in Orange County and the recent death of Deputy Sheriff Barbara Pill in Brevard County, and how these events can bring the community together to help support law enforcement.

     As the racers stretched and prepared for the 3.1 mile run, they were provided with plenty of bottled water and large slices of oranges to stay hydrated for the race. Last year runners were tracked by somewhat cumbersome ankle monitors that digitally cataloged their time as they raced. The same system was used this year, but with a small flat tracking unit attached to the back of the race numbers that all participants received.

     Entrances to the campus were blocked off before the race began, and runners took a fast-paced tour of the winding Valencia College Drive that encompasses the West Campus. Some gave it everything they had to achieve personal records and bragging rights, while others took a steady pace, merely participating and not overworking in the humid heat of the day.

     The winner of this year's 5K was Diego Valencia (46) with a time of 18:49.3, almost two minutes faster then the second place finisher, with a pace of 6:04 per mile.

     “It feels pretty good to win. The last time I finished first overall was about 18-years-ago,” said Valencia. The 30 year running veteran was celebrating and taking picture with fellow racers and friends, and wanted to give thanks to Jesus Christ, dedicating the victory to his glory.

     Another shining athlete at this event was the top place female racer Beth Jeck (51), who finished fifth place overall with a time of 21:20.3. She has raced in over 100 events in the last 15 years, and maintained a strong composure and positive attitude even after giving this race her all.

     “It helps to control my seizures; I’m an epileptic,” said Jeck. She discovered after her husband got her into running that the exercise helped her control the condition, along with a variety of healthy life choices like proper diet and nutrition. “I’ll keep racing till I fall over, I just love it.”

     The funds raised at this years event are still dedicated to the memory of Justin Harvey, who envisioned this 5K event as a Valencia Alumni board member. Harvey became mysteriously ill and was still working on the plans for the first race in his hospital bed. He didn't live to see the first race, but his dreams live on and are fully realized now after years of successful annual races in his honor.

By James Tutten

(All photos by James Tutten)

51-year-old epileptic Beth Jeck #90 sprints to the head of the race group to establish her impressive 5th place finish.
Diego Valencia is all smiles holding the first place overall finisher trophy a feat he hasn’t achieved in over 18 years.


Orange County Sheriff's Department officers join this years race sporting full dress, over 20 pounds of additional gear.



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