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Tokay High School students plan fun run to benefit children in hospitals

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Posted: Saturday, April 21, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 8:37 am, Sat Apr 21, 2012.

Attention, Lodi runners and walkers: Have some free time next Saturday? Then head out to Lodi Lake for a 5K event to support Project Sunshine, a national organization that benefits families with children in hospitals.

Anthony Sorbera and Julie Rizzolo of Tokay High School are making it happen.

Rizzolo, 17, wrote a paper on advocacy for children in hospitals for her senior capstone project, and had planned a low-key afternoon of compiling craft kits for Project Sunshine to fulfill the required work hours.

She invited the members of Tokay's Interact Club to join her. That's when Sorbera, 16, got involved.

An avid runner, Sorbera was blocked from joining the track and field team this spring due to an injury at wrestling practice. He offered to help Rizzolo organize a 5K charity run to raise money and awareness for Project Sunshine.

"I can't run, so we'll make everyone else run instead," joked Sorbera.

There was just one problem: Neither teen had set up a run before, or any event of this scale.

"There is just so much to do. So many little things," said Rizzolo.

They have been asking for donations from local businesses, advertising the run, setting up refreshments, renting Lodi Lake, buying awards and promoting Project Sunshine all the while. Plus, they're both still in school all day.

Sorbera took on the task of designing promotions. But he said he's never even designed a poster before.

"My brother took one look at it and said, 'That doesn't look good,'" he said. The final product has come a long way.

Why was Sorbera working so hard?

"All I do is school and sports. I wanted to do something for the community," said Sorbera.

Adults can run or walk the 5K route, while kids can tackle a one-mile loop. Lunch and a T-shirt are included in the registration fee.

Rizzolo said all the work is worth it.

"I just want to help some kids," she said.

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com. For more information about local education issues, read our Education Café blog.

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