SOLANA BEACH — While watching her child’s soccer game from the sidelines, Kimberly Caccavo was asked by another spectator if she would participate in a triathlon in honor of Chelsea King, who was murdered in 2010 while on a run near Lake Hodges.
“She (Aurora Colello) was complaining that she was trying to get people to run this triathlon and people weren’t signing up,” Caccavo said. “So I said, ‘Sure, what the heck.’”
Little did Caccavo know she had just made a life-changing decision, and not just for herself.
Within a few years she and her run and swim coach, Kate Nolan, launched Graced by Grit, making athletic apparel designed to empower women and help keep them safe.
“While we were training we started talking about the different needs in women’s athletic clothing,” Caccavo said. “One day Kelly King came to speak to the triathlon team and said her daughter was murdered just feet from people, and if she’d only had a place for her phone or a whistle to keep her safe, maybe she would be alive.
“So that inspired us,” Caccavo added. “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a pocket to hold your phone or a whistle that came with your clothes? Three years later we were still training together and talking about it and we said, ‘This is a great idea. Let’s go take on Nike and Lululemon because we’re two moms. We could totally do it.’”
The home-based business, which expanded to the Solana Beach store in May 2015, created athletic apparel with safety features “that empowered women to feel safe, to get out and continue to do what they love and know that they have that sense of security with a whistle, with pockets to accommodate their phones, with reflectivity, with UV 50-plus in all the clothing,” Nolan said.
“We designed the line with that concept in mind, keeping in mind Chelsea’s life as well,” she added.
Their efforts recently came full circle with the introduction of the Chelsea legging, featuring a sunflower design and made from recycled water bottles, combining Chelsea’s favorite flower with one of her passions.
At the Dec. 7 launch party the leggings, normally priced at $118, were available for $100, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Chelsea’s Light Foundation. About $1,150 was raised that night and helped Grace by Grit exceed its overall fundraising goal for the organization of $5,000.
The women set a new goal to raise an additional $10,000. A percentage of all leggings sold at the store will continue to go to the foundation. The leggings will also be sold at all Chelsea’s Light events for $100, with $50 going to the foundation.
Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, in whose district the Kings lived at the time of their daughter’s death, worked with the family to pass Chelsea’s law, a one-strike, life-without-parole sentencing option for the most dangerous sexual offenders.
Chelsea’s Light Foundation is working to expand the law nationwide.
Fletcher attended the launch party to share his story of how the legislation was created and passed within seven months. He said Brent King told him he didn’t want his daughter’s tragedy to be the story of her life.
“Brent said, ‘Out of this darkness we want there to be a light and the light is we’re going to change the law,’” Fletcher said. “The fact that years now, after we had the bill signed and years after we had candlelight vigils … there are still folks out there that are inspired by her story, that are doing things that are going to protect girls and save people and support the effort of the foundation, truly is what Brent told me the first day.
“He said, ‘You don’t know my daughter. You don’t know the power of what she represents,’” Fletcher added. “And I think it’s reflected here. … This is inspiring and this is what helps motivate everyone to keep doing more.
“We see the power of socially conscious purchases,” Fletcher said. “You’re ahead of the curve because I think people are going to start looking to their purchases as a reflection of their values … and not just the value that you get because it’s cheap … but the value that that garment inspires.
“I think you’re onto something that’s really going to do right by the foundation and potentially the people who wear it.”