Corona del Mar Today: Resurgent spirit

January 01, 2011
  • Young runners take off at the start of a race in thier division in the annual Spirit Run.
Young runners take off at the start of a race in thier division… (Daily Pilot )

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.


Dallas bound

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.

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