“Helping Children Blossom” – An evening to benefit CASA’s services of support and advocacy for foster children in the Antelope Valley
The 2014 Antelope Valley benefit dinner was held on Friday, March 7, 2014, at the University of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster. The CASA Child Advocacy Award was presented to Senator Sharon Runner, Senator George Runner and their family by Dilys Tosteson Garcia, Executive Director of CASA/LA. With 150 people in attendance, the event raised over $20,000 in support of advocacy for foster children in the Antelope Valley. Students from Desert Christian High School Choir opened the evening with “We Are Not Alone” while cadettes from Lancaster High Air Force Junior ROTC welcomed guests and escorted them to their tables. The evening also featured guest speaker and 2012 CASA Volunteer of the Year, Linda Galati who shared her experience. Co-host Jean Youngquist also shared her experience as a CASA volunteer and emphasized the need for more CASAs to help foster children.
View photos from the event by clicking here.
The Runners were honored for their commitment to helping children. George Runner served as a Lancaster City Council member and as the mayor before becoming a California assemblyman and then state senator. He now sits on the state Board of Equalization as an elected member.
Sharon Runner also won a seat in the Assembly and then the state Senate. George Runner authored California’s Amber Alert System, which notifies the public of a search in progress for abducted children. The Runners also authored California’s version of Jessica’s Law, which imposes mandatory minimum prison sentences for sexual offenders convicted of violations against children younger than 14.
Micah, George and Sharon’s son and his wife Sandy Runner “opened their home to a foster youth” who they eventually adopted. The Runners’ daughter joined the U.S. Coast Guard. Her ship was the first on scene in Haiti following a devastating earthquake. There she helped a young mother deliver a baby. She and husband James DuVall have a child, Paxton. Kay Runner, George Runner’s mother, was thanked for setting an example and “establishing the family values.
Members from the city also awarded the Runners with Presentations of Commendations. The evening concluded with Sandy Roberts performing “The Prayer.”
Thank you to our event sponsors:
Dr. Karunyan Arulanantham
Dr. Abdallah Farrukh
Kaiser Permanente Panorama City
R. Rex Parris Law Firm
Party of Four Sponsors
High Desert Medical Group
Timothy Hayes Financial
Jean & Bob Youngquist
Hank and Trudy Marvin
Thompson Von Tungeln, A.P.C.
Jim and Pam Vose
2014 Event Committee
Jean Youngquist, Chair
From 2004 to 2008, then-Senator George Runner and then-Assemblywoman Sharon Runner were the first husband and wife in California history to serve concurrently in the California State Legislature.
Elected in November 2010, George Runner currently represents the State Board of Equalization’s Second District. Prior to his election to the Board, Runner served twelve years in the State Legislature. Prior to his election to the State Senate in 2004, Runner served in the State Assembly for three terms, from 1996 to 2002, and previously served on the Lancaster City Council, including two years as mayor.
Sharon Runner represented the 17th Senate District from 2011 to 2012. She was previously a member of the California State Assembly from 2002 to 2008, representing the 36th District. While in the Assembly she served on the Veteran’s Committee; Housing Committee; Select Committees dealing with Foster Care; the Committee on Drug and Alcohol Abuse; as well as the Task Force on the Environment, Energy, and the Economy.
In 2006, along with her husband, Sharon Runner authored Proposition 83, California’s version of Jessica’s Law. The measure passed with the support of 71% of California voters. Jessica’s Law ensures that all sexual offenders who are convicted of activity with children under the age of 14 are put into a prison with a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years or 25 years to life.
In 1976 the Runners founded Desert Christian Schools, which is now one of the largest private schools in the State of California. The Runners are proud parents of their son Micah, daughter-in-law Sandy, daughter Rebekah, son-in-law James, and four grandchildren.
For more information about the 2013 Helping Children Blossom event, click here.