Destiny Martin is such a good sport, she downed a super-gross drink ? twice ? just so her friend wouldn?t have to.
Martin, a Comstock Middle School eighth grader, was participating in the first annual ?Amazing Race,? an all-day challenge sponsored by St. Joseph Health System?s Circle of Sisters program.
Modeled after the popular television show in which teams execute challenges all over the globe to make it to next week?s episode, Wednesday?s event sent nearly 100 girls and their volunteer team leaders around downtown Santa Rosa completing challenges like lugging donated food to the Redwood Gospel Mission, wrapping gift boxes for the homeless, and, yes, drinking a weird vegetable concoction that apparently smelled horrid.
Each completed challenge earned a clue for the next activity.
?I drank this smoothie, it was mixed with vegetables,? Martin said, while hurriedly wrapping boxes at Chop?s teen center in Railroad Square to fulfill that particular challenge. ?I had to drink two because Brenda wouldn?t drink hers.?
?It was nasty,? said Taylor Mountain Elementary School fifth grader Berenice Gonzalez.
The 10-year-old Circle of Sisters program is run by St. Joseph?s Health System, but relies heavily on volunteers.
Girls between the ages of nine and 14 from 12 schools around Sonoma County gather once a week to talk about their week, do a pre-determined activity and plan bigger events, like Wednesday?s ?race.?
The focus is giving an alternative to gangs, violence, abuse, drugs and alcohol.
?It?s all about empowering young women to make healthy lifestyle decisions,? said Vanessa deGier, St. Joseph Health Systems spokeswoman.
For Gonzalez, just talking is the best part.
?Just telling them what?s wrong and just talking to them,? she said.
Christie Gomez, a sophomore at Piner High School, volunteers every week at Comstock Middle School?s Circle of Sisters because she got so much out of the program when she was a middle school student.
Gomez knows that, as a high schooler, her presence is important to the younger students.
?I think they think this must be a cool place to hang out (because) she?s older than us,? she said.
Another push for Wednesday?s event was getting girls moving ? literally.
Equipped with donated pedometers, some girls were sweating at Chop?s, after toting canned goods, doing obstacle courses in the park, and wandering all over downtown Santa Rosa.
?They have been hoofing it all day long,? said Amy Chevrolet, program supervisor for Circle of Sisters.
The event was the brain child of Helen Cortopassi, a nurse educator, who for years had done similar events with Girl Scouts.
Cortopassi tried to get participants to give their own environment a second look by locating different events at some out-of-the-way locations.
?You know the Roxy Theater is there, but do you know the Prince Memorial Greenway was there or the Korean Memorial?? she said.
But the day was decidedly goofy.
Digging through popcorn bins to find a yellow Jelly Belly? Squishing mints to find the green goo? Looking for a woman wearing a turquoise scarf at Santa Rosa Plaza?
?I think it?s gone without a hitch because the hitches made it more exciting,? Chevrolet said.
Read all of the PD's fire coverage here