Local children run race inspired by Chelsea King - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Local children run race inspired by Chelsea King

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SAN DIEGO (CNS) - More than 150 students from San Diego schools participated Friday in the sixth annual Chelsea King Invitational Mile, honoring the Poway High School senior killed by a convicted sex offender during a jog five years ago.

Third through sixth grade students participated in eight races Friday at Lindbergh Schweitzer Elementary School. The runners qualified to participate in the race based on mile times recorded at their school sites.

The top overall male and female runners received medals and awards were given to the top five runners in each race.

Many well-decorated runners and athletes attended to inspire the students, including award-winning runner and Cal State San Marcos Coach Steve Scott. Olympic-qualified runner Shari Ball-Garcia is also expected to attend.

The Chelsea King Invitational Mile was started by local teacher Mary Lou Baranowski and veteran athlete Roger Drews to honor King and the values she embodied: athletic excellence, academic achievement and community outreach.

Event organizers said the race was open to students who wished to pursue the goals the 17-year-old emulated. She was an avid runner, a straight-A student and was involved in her community.

Chelsea was jogging in Rancho Bernardo in February 2010 when she was abducted, raped and strangled by John Albert Gardner III, who had previously been convicted and served prison time for molesting a 13-year-old neighbor girl. Chelsea's body was later found in a densely wooded area beside Lake Hodges.

Gardner pleaded guilty to killing Chelsea and 14-year-old Escondido High freshman Amber DuBois one year earlier. He's serving two life terms in prison without the possibility of parole, plus an additional 25 years to life for attacking a 22-year-old jogger in late December 2009 and 24 years due to prior convictions.

In the five years since Chelsea's death, several events have been held in her honor, including the annual Finish Chelsea's Run 5K event that draws thousands of runners each year. A scholarship program has been launched in her honor and a bridge on state Route 15 over Lake Hodges was named the Chelsea King Memorial Bridge.

Following their daughter's murder, Brent and Kelly King championed California's Chelsea's Law, which mandates life prison terms for those convicted of violent sex crimes against children and increases law enforcement oversight of paroled sex offenders.

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