ETCETERA - 4-year-old little person tackles triathalon

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Unwilling to be defeated by her size, Walla Wallan Lee Coleman's 41/2-year-old granddaughter Alex Craven took on the challenge of a kids' race in her home town of Corvallis.

The daughter of Jodi Coleman, a 1987 Walla Walla High School graduate, and Greg Craven, Alex is a dwarf. "This was an amazing feat for her," Lee said. Ever since her birth, the Coleman-Craven clan has been active in Little People of America. Jodi said Alex has achondroplasia, the most common form of dwarfism.

Alex went from being too scared to take a swing at a recent birthday party piata to expressing an interest in the triathalon, Jodi said. It involved a 25-yard swim, a 1/4-mile bike ride and a 300-yard run. A non-swimmer, Alex used an inner tube for the swimming portion.

Jodi graduated in 1991from the University of Puget Sound. Trained as a teacher, she's currently a stay-at-home mom. "The weeks leading up to the event, she kept saying that she wanted to do it, but I really just couldn't imagine it," Jodi recalled via e-mail. " I was fairly certain that we would get to the ‘race,' she would see the crowds and the chaos and not want to do it. But I was so wrong," she said.

Hundreds of people finishing the adult triathlon and others milling about getting ready for the kids' event milled about. Turns out Alex "was never (fazed), instead she was just so excited."

About 44 kids entered and event coordinators strongly encouraged parents to let their kids do the race themselves. Many volunteers helped the kids in the transition area and on the course.

"So we pretty much explained things to her and then stepped back to let her do her thing," Jodi said.

"She was just so amazing. She swam with the kids, then needed to run 75 meters to get to the transition area. Running isn't her strong point, so even though she was with a pack of kids for the swim, she was one of the later ones to make it to the bike.

With Alex's "slick outfit choice - a swimsuit coverup and red rubber rain boots - she was a quick transitioner and left on the bike well ahead of many kids." Several competitors stripped down completely and put on dry biking/running clothes in the transition area.

Alex, who attends cooperative preschool, rode out of her family's view during the bike course. "Even though it was probably only 4 minutes that we couldn't see her, it seemed like it was forever. Did she fall? Does she know where to go? Are there really volunteers out there to help her? Stuff like that went on in my head," Jodi said.

Eventually Alex came flying in, most kids far ahead of her, a huge grin on her face. Volunteers helped her doff her helmet, and she ran on, still sporting a smile.

It "was definitely the longest continuous run Alex has ever faced, and part way through it, she realized she was tired and walked a bit. But then, as she later told Greg, she thought to herself, ‘I think I will beat some of those kids,' and she started running again.

"With the finish line in sight, she tripped and face planted on the hard running track, shed a few tears, and then put on a burst of energy to sprint to the finish.

"Official results say she finished in 16 minutes and was 43rd, but we never saw that last person. Alex couldn't be more delighted with herself, and we are more in awe of her than ever."

Alex's 6-year-old sister Katie expressed zero interest in the triathalon before it was held. But once it was done, Jodi said, Katie told her that perhaps she will do it next year as long as she can stay with Alex.

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It's not too late to sign up for Walla Walla High School Class of 1975's 35th reunion July 9-10, said classmate Colleen Stalberger.

The July 9 garden party will be at 6 p.m. at 2300 Mill Creek Road, with a cost of $10 per person.

On July 10, the group will gather for dinner and dancing from 5:30-11 p.m. at the Walla Walla Country Club for $55 per person. For more information from the reunion committee, contact Colleen at 509-529-4730 or mstalberger@charter.net.

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John Sager School Class of 1975's reunion will be Friday and Saturday, said Auralea Blackman via e-mail. Blue and gold balloons will mark the entrance of the venue, Milton-Freewater Junior Show Grounds, Towslee Pavilion, just north/adjacent to Bordertown Feed & Supply, 84575 Highway 11. Gatherings include a meet and greet and registration from 7 p.m. to midnight Friday. At a time yet to be determined Saturday, there will be a tour of Sager school; and a potluck will be from 5:30 p.m. midnight. For more details, contact Auralea at 509-520-3775 or ablackman@charterinternet.com .

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The Driving Hope Charity Golf Classic will be July 22 at Walla Walla Country Club. Proceeds will benefit Providence St. Mary Foundation. For additional information, contact smmc.com or 522-5910.

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A new flag pole will be dedicated at The Center at the Park, 720 Sprague Ave., at 11 a.m. Monday.

The existing 20-foot pole, a gift in 1980 from the American Legion, will be retired. The new 30-foot pole was given to the center by American Legion Walter C. Lee Post 32, American Veterans Jonathan M. Wainwright Post 1111 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Grant Farmer Post 992.

The Center holds a monthly strawberry waffle supper to raise funds for its programs. The June meal will be from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesday. The $3.50 cost features Belgian waffles topped with strawberries and whipped cream and a sausage on the side. Garrison Creek Lodge partners with the Center to provide this event, which is open to the community. The Olde Thyme Musicians will follow with entertainment at 6:30 p.m.

The Center is staffed by Mike Johnson, executive director; Howard Ostby, nutrition director; and Peggy Needham, RSVP director. Its Board of Trustees is led by Hersch Fullerton, president; Louis Hammock Jr., vice president; Helen Johnson, secretary; and ShirleyAzeltine, treasurer. Current trustees are Terry McCoy, Dale Peck, Mary Ann Applebee, Shirley Azeltine, Jeannie Rodenberg, Jim Corn, Linda Franco, Fred Kearsley and Richard Burnett; Dan Mallery, member-at-large; Fred Mitchell Jr., city representative; and Ed Baustian, community representative.

Except for holidays and special occasions, lunch is generally served five days per week. A variety of classes, activities, health and welfare events are ongoing at the Center, which also offers tours. Two such outings are a trip to see the Pendleton Underground on July 21. The $39 fee includes a guided tour and round-trip bus transportation. The second trip will be a Wallowa Lake picnic and Mount Howard Tramway ride on Aug. 25. The $74 fee includes transportation, lunch and goldola ride. The bus will leave at 9 a.m. and return by 6 p.m.

The Center, 720 Sprague Ave., publishes a monthly newsletter, The Bottom Line. Call 527-3775 or online see seniors.bmi.net for more information about its programs.

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Students at Ferndale School in Milton-Freewater enjoyed a special guest appearance by author Patrick Carman of Walla Walla.

While at the end-of-the-year assembly, Patrick presented an award to a fifth-grade student who set a reading record at the school. Anna Lonai has earned more than 2,000 Accelerated Reader points in her kindergarten-fifth-grade career at Ferndale.

No other student, so far, has read that many books and earned that many points.

When Patrick called Anna forward, he joked that she probably wasn't there because she was off reading somewhere.

Anna received a plaque that will hang on the wall at Ferndale, noting her record. Patrick gave her a signed copy of his latest book, "Trackers," and a first edition copy of his very first book, "Dark Hills Divide." The first edition copy is from the printing he had printed himself, and it includes a chapter that was later taken out of the book. He spoke briefly to the entire student body, explaining that if they want to become better writers they need to read. He told them a bit about his experience writing and how he came up with the story for his first book.

"The students were awed and surprised by Mr. Carman's appearance, as it was kept a secret to make it even more special for Anna," said Jennifer Riley via e-mail.

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The Rising Sun Clubhouse, 35 W. Chestnut St., celebrated its sixth anniversary with a potluck barbecue on May 15. About 50 people came for the fun and enjoyed hot dogs, hamburgers and salads, augmented by beverages provided by Coca-Cola and a cake by Super 1.

Noah Leavitt, Banner Bank and BMAC organized and conducted a series of money management classes for clubhouse members, the May newsletter reported.

The group held a wine soiree fundraiser that was attended by up to 50 guests. All told, the event cleared $1,476.64 after expenses. Board member Cindy Mettler spearheaded the wine tasting.

Providence St. Mary Medical Center recently donated two round tables with stackable chairs and Margaret Ogilivie, director of The Place and a loyal supporter of the Clubhouse donated a third table, said Kay Maxfield. Clubhouse director.

With 200 members, the site is becoming too small to accommodate everyone and all the activities offered there. On their wish list, then, is a bigger space. A list of other needs is available by calling 529-0120 or e-mailing risingsunclubhouse@yahoo.com.

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A Veterans Administration employee recognition program for women veterans cited the accomplishments of Walla Wallan Eva Franco Morales.

Eva was in the U.S. Air Force from November 1982 to April 199 2. She has served four years with the VA and has been in federal service for 21 years.

She is program support assistant in Home and Community Based Services at the VA. Eva initially specialized in fitness and recreation, a division of Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

Her military assignments included service at March Air Force Base in California, Torrejon Air Base in Spain and Indian Springs Air Field, now Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. She retrained in training systems and was assigned to Homestead Air Force Base in Florida. Her final station was Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska. The highlight of her career was receiving an F-16 incentive flight over the plains of Spain as an airman 1st class. She later earned Distinguished Graduate at noncommissioned officer leadership school.

The 1982 Walla Walla High School alumna is the daughter of Linda Franco of Walla Walla and the late Domingo /Franco. Her husband, Douglas Morales, is currently stationed with the U.S. Air Force in South Korea.

Linda's grandson, Pfc. Fernando Torres of Walla Walla and also a Wa-Hi graduate, recently visited with family here, including his parents, Bonnie and John Torres. Fernando is stationed in Hawaii.

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Ruby Rosenbaum Rodriguez of Prescott graduated from Coastal Bend College. It has campuses in Beeville, Alice, Kingsville and Pleasanton, Texas. Ruby earned her associate of arts degree from the college.

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On May 25, Walla Walla High School students from Scott Reardon's economics class conducted an International Economic Summit with Jeff Leavitt's students from Reardan (Wash.) High School in Reardan.

Forty students from both schools participated in the all-day event. They prepared for more three months for the culmination of this unit covering the basics of international trade and economic development, were paired together and represented 20 countries from around the world, Scott said in a release.

The student teams aimed to improve the living standards and economic position of their assigned countries.

Acting as "economic advisors," students formed trade alliances with representatives from other countries. Then they presented a key economic development issue facing their country to the entire group in hopes of getting it approved by the majority.

The event's apex was the trade session, where students spent an hour in open trading in an attempt to meet all of the import goals they had established for their nation.

Prior to and throughout the event, country teams were able to score points through a variety of methods, such as meeting common deadlines, arranging a table display, creating theme T-shirts, and identifying the various flags for the countries represented in the Summit. Wa-Hi's contingent was led by Kayla Leinweber and Maria Garcia, representing Nigeria, who finished 2nd in the event.

The International Economic Summit is sponsored by the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank and is growing in popularity throughout the West Coast. This event was the first multi-school summit ever held in Eastern Washington.

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Denali M. Molitor, a member of the Walla Walla High School Class of 2010, received a National Merit Scholarship award. Denali plans to study geology at Colorado College in Colorado Springs. She is among 8,400 students in the country who will receive awards ranging from $500 to $2,000 each year for up to four years of undergraduate study through the scholarship program. Colorado College is a liberal arts college with about 1,800 students. It is independent and focused on the arts and sciences. The college is underwriting the scholarship award.

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Denise Marr needs some "fun folks" to donate an hour or so of their time in exchange for free admission to see Walla Walla Community College Foundation's summer musical, "Footloose!" on the night volunteers work. There are openings for ushers, ticket takers, T-shirt and program sellers and special event helpers prior to performances July 8-10, 15-18 and 22-24. There may be some familiar faces of area residents who are playing characters in the production, such as Ron "Cowboy Bob" Higgins, Willa "Ariel" Schober, Preston "Ren" Loomer and Peter "Willard" Anderson. For more details, e-mail denise.marr@WWCC.edu or call at 527-4275.

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Garrison and Pioneer Middle School Explorer Program students spoke on May 18 with school board members on the video documentaries they produced for a C-SPAN competition, the May 21 Walla Walla Public Schools Week in Review noted.

Although the 32 documentary topics were vast, all videos centered on the themes of challenges the country faces and what strengths the country has.

School board and audience members viewed two of the videos the Explorers submitted in the competition. One focused on the impacts of cyberbullying in schools and the other on the negative media coverage schools often face. Explorer teacher Dan Calzaretta reported to school board members that students spent about 60 hours per video or altogether, more than 1,600 hours for the productions. Explorer teacher Beth Clearman said the project challenged the students to hone their research skills, enhance their understanding of technology and work as a team. The videos are posted on the Pioneer and Garrison websites. Dan added that approximately 250 people attended the film showing evening at Walla Walla High School earlier this year.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or 526-8313.

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