It was 10 years ago on February 25, 2010 when Chelsea King went for a run at Lake Hodges and was taken from us. For days, our San Diego community searched for her. We saw the emotion and the pain in the faces of her parents Brent and Kelly King. There were search teams looking all around for the Poway High School student.
Her body was found at Lake Hodges where a memorial plaque stands today. After an investigation, the monster who did this terrible act was captured and is locked up in prison.
Little did we know at that time that there was a connection between Chelsea King and a 14 year old teenager from Escondido named Amber Dubois who has been missing for a year. Amber walked to school the morning of February 13, 2009 and was never seen again.
The coward didn't want to face the death penalty so he said he would lead investigators to the body of Amber in exchange for life without parole.
This was behind the scenes secret information that only investigators and the District Attorney at the time knew about.
Amber's family didn't know of the connection and it was up to the parents of Chelsea King to agree to LIFE instead of the death penalty. Brent and Kelly King had the opportunity to give this monster death, but they chose to give Amber's family and friends closure.
In early March of 2010, 4 friends and I had an idea to FINISH CHELSEA'S RUN. We got a hold of the Poway High School cross country coach and he told us the route that Chelsea was most likely running. Our goal was to finish the young girls's run and to make a statement to her parents and friends that Chelsea lives on.
We wanted to get 100 people to show up at Lake Hodges to finish her run. We went on social media and asked for people to show up. I believe the date was Saturday March 20, 2010. We didn't get 100 people to show up that morning. We got over 3,500. Kelly King made a surprise appearance and greeted everyone at the finish line. She hugged every single person that crossed that finish line.
That was the birth of FINISH CHELSEA'S RUN. My friends and I were known as the 5 Guys Who Started The Run. Aaron Acevedo, Dave Jewell, Todd Velazquez, Andy Voggenthaler and me (Tommy Sablan).
MY LIFE CHANGED soon after that run.
I was sitting at the public memorial service for Chelsea King on the football field of Poway High. I heard Brent King say, "Our world needs hope, in order for our world to have hope, we all need to GIVE. He said GIVE YOUR HEART, YOUR SOUL to something you believe in. If you do that, you are remembering my daughter CHELSEA."
As a father myself to a young girl the same age as Chelsea, it hit me hard. Those words have never left my heart and my soul. Ever since that moment, I have dedicated my life to the word GIVE. I have dedicated my life to always REMEMBER CHELSEA and AMBER.
I met Amber's family a few days after Chelsea's service. Her family needed help to put together her public memorial and needed someone to get things done. I was called by someone in Chelsea's family to call Amber's mom. I called Carrie and said whatever you need, I will get.
I put together the public memorial with many others and it was an honor to be part of that team.
I became close with both Chelsea's family and Amber's family for the next several years. My life changed for the better with Chelsea and Amber's LIGHT AND SPIRIT leading the way.
I used to take Amber's little sister Allison to get ice cream once a week and then I got really fat.
Everything in my life today is about GIVING, but it is only because of BRENT KING. Brent King and the word GIVE has changed my life.
NEVER FORGET CHELSEA KING.
NEVER FORGET AMBER DUBOIS.
Photos used by permission from Brent King and Carrie McGonigle.