Volunteers from school kids to civic leaders took to the streets Tuesday to raise money for Children's Hospital Central California through Kid's Day -- the 27th year citizens from Valley communities have turned out to sell -- and buy -- a special edition of The Bee.
A daily prayer for rain in the drought-suffering Valley was put on hold as the volunteers sold the $1 special edition of the paper in Fresno, Madera, Kings, Merced and Mariposa counties. More than $6.3 million has been raised through the annual event, a joint effort of The Bee and KFSN (Channel 30.1). Last year, more than $480,000 was raised and the goal this year is $500,000 which would beat the record set last year. A total from this year's effort was not available Tuesday night as collections were still being counted.
As in years past, many who bought the paper paid more than $1 for it as a gesture of good will toward the hospital. Bulldog head coach Tim DeRuyter was pulling in $5, $10 and $20 bills at Shaw and Blackstone avenues on a regular basis and received $100 from one man who pulled over to write him a check. The Shaw and Blackstone location, dubbed "Celebrity Corner," also featured Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer, District Attorney Elizabeth Egan and Supervisor Henry R. Perea. The celebrity in chief, however was 12-year-old Mateo Escobar, named Ambassador of Kid's Day this year. Mateo was diagnosed with a rare heart condition when he was 4 and was treated at the hospital.
Mateo, who was with parents David and Karen, started selling the papers at 5:20 a.m. and said he would be on the corner until about 11 a.m. -- or until the family helped raise $500,000, his father joked.
Other students on the corner included Sydney Smith of San Joaquin Memorial High School and Madison Paholsky of Bullard High, who reported selling a 50-paper stack in 10 minutes.
Employees of businesses also teamed up to sell the paper, including Tawnie Kroll and Amber Blount of Pismo's Coastal Grill, who were near Friant Road and Blackstone. Pismo's teamed up with Westwood BBQ and Yosemite Falls Cafe with a goal of raising $1,000. Like Coach DeRuyter, Kroll reported receiving a $100 bill and Blount said she was handed a number of $20 bills.
At Blackstone and Dakota avenues, Sherri Lopez said she was motivated to volunteer for Kid's Day to give back to the hospital for taking care of someone she knew.
"I had a friend who was in Children's Hospital for three months," she said.
In Visalia, Kimberly Barman, 17, a senior at Mt. Whitney High School, began hawking Kid's Day papers at 5 a.m. at Mooney Boulevard and Noble Avenue, one of the busiest intersections in town.
"A lot of people were really generous" by giving more than $1 for a newspaper, she said. "They were really nice. That made it really fun."
Ciara Daniel, 16, a junior at Golden West High, said this is her first year selling Kid's Day papers.
"It's fun. It's definitely exhausting, though," she said.
Staff writer Lewis Griswold contributed to this story. The reporter may be reached at (559) 441-6339, email@example.com or @jimguy27 on Twitter.