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Amparo kids benefit from ‘Amazing Race’

OCEANSIDE — In television’s “Amazing Race,” contestants vie for fame and fortune, but on March 19, the winnings went to abused children in the care of Casa de Amparo. Established in 1978, the local nonprofit is a leader in the treatment and prevention of child abuse and neglect in San Diego County.
The Amazing Race for Casa Kids was the top money-maker at Casa de Amparo’s annual Crystal Ball Gala that took place last October. Five teams of four bid $5,000 each to take part in the race.
Event organizers Linda Alessio and Vivian Lee Ford, patrons of Casa de Amparo, worked for nine months to create the event.
“Linda and Vivian were so good at keeping everything secret, that not even staff knew what would be happening until the week before the race,” said Keely Tidrow, Casa de Amparo development manager.
Starting with a putting contest at Fairbanks Ranch Country Club in Rancho Santa Fe, clues took contestants to San Dieguito Park where teams sought a “lofty perch, high above the trees” where their next clue awaited. The catch was that teams could communicate only with noise makers — no talking allowed.
The least popular leg for most was a tripe-eating contest at a local Mexican restaurant, but, running on competitive adrenaline, the intrepid teams raced on to the Solana Beach Library where clues were passages from books each team had to identify and locate to find their next clue. “One team member was so pumped up her hands were shaking as she read the clue,” said Rebecca Lynn, branch manager. “We were so glad they thought of the library. Now we know about Casa de Amparo and a lot more people know how much their local library offers.”
“I couldn’t stop saying how much fun the whole day was,” said Natalie Shull, a member of winning team Dottie’s Hot Totties, named for Dot McCrink, who purchased the team privilege at the gala. “The race taught me a lot about teamwork. Everyone contributed something in a different way.”
“Everyone felt like a winner,” said Greg Stein of team Royal Flush. “The real winners, of course, are the kids of Casa.”
For more information about Casa de Amparo and photos of the Casa de Amparo Amazing Race, visit

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