HomeCommunity NewsDavid Laurell: Kiwanis Sports Support for Youth Programs

David Laurell: Kiwanis Sports Support for Youth Programs

When Burbankers convene in one location to celebrate a sporting event, they are usually decked-out in either Burbank Bulldog blue or Burroughs Bear red.

That was not the case this past week as members and supporters of the Burbank Kiwanis Club donned jerseys and team jackets in a variety of colors to pay tribute to athletic competition from sandlots to stadiums.

Gathering for their annual gala, staged under the theme “A Salute to Sports,” the Kiwanians honored the Burbank high school teams, as well as all athletes and teams from the collegiate and professional ranks who take to the gridirons, diamonds, courts, courses and ice.

From the many who showed their support for Chavez Ravine’s boys of summer by wearing Dodger blue, to Assemblywoman Laura Friedman and her husband, Guillaume Lemoine, who sported Arsenal red to pay homage to the English professional football club of Holloway, north London, the evening proved to be one in which attendees colorfully conferred their athletic allegiance.

With the City of Brotherly Love being well represented by Paul McKenna, who opted for an orange Philadelphia Flyers jersey, and Linda Wiggins, who went with a green Philadelphia Eagles jersey, the evening overall saw the gatherings’ rivalries meld together into a singular proud showing of Kiwanis blue.

Welcomed by Burbank Kiwanis Club President Ron Rothacker and the event chair Diana Cripe, it was an evening of dining, camaraderie, awards and a live auction. The event was conducted by Caesar Milch, who gave bidders the opportunity to own a football signed by Hall of Famers Deion Sanders and Marcus Allen and take home premier tickets to various professional sporting events.

Gala chair Diana Cripe and Kiwanian Luis Centeno hold up a football signed by Deion Sanders and Marcus Allen that was donated for the live auction.

The highlight of the evening was an inspirational message delivered by former pro golfer Rick Sessinghaus, a Burbank resident.

Named one of the nation’s top 50 golf instructors by Golf Digest, the author of “Golf: The Ultimate Mind Game” and the co-founder of FlowCode, which provides coaching and success strategies for athletes, teams and executives, Sessinghaus is also an instructional editor for Golf Tips Magazine and a regular contributor on Fox Sports Network.

Sessinghaus is an alumnus of Burbank High School and Cal State University, Northridge, who earned master’s and doctorate degrees in applied sports psychology. He also coached local golf champion Collin Morikawa, who has chalked up six PGA Tour wins that includes the 2020 PGA Championship and the 2021 Open Championship.

Former professional golfer Rick Sessinghaus and his wife, Kathy, attended last week’s Kiwanis Club of Burbank gala.

Among the notables in attendance at last week’s gala were state Sen. Anthony Portantino, Burbank Mayor Nick Schultz and former Burbank Fire Chief Mike Davis.

This year’s gala was made possible by Cripe’s committee members Eddie Arnold, Oscar Aguilar and Joe Terranova, along with assistance by Luis Centeno, Al Leifer, Gary Peterson, Nancy Serpa, Catherine and Robert Hutt, Cynthia Faust, Lisa Malm, Carline Romela-Herisse, Linda Wiggins, Tom Engman, David Harris, Debbie Kutka and Roberta Reynolds.

This annual gala is designed to raise funds to help Kiwanians provide support for Burbank youth. The club works year-round to assist young people by increasing their confidence, finding their self-expression and developing leadership skills.

The organization has a long history of supporting many programs at Burbank schools, donating to art, music and drama departments, sponsoring the middle schools’ speech program, and producing “Burbank Singing Star,” a contest for students coordinated by Charissa Anderson of Music Junction, which raises thousands of dollars that go toward elementary school music education.

Local Kiwanians also sponsor the six Key Clubs at area high schools, with their hundreds of members annually contributing roughly 1,000 hours of volunteer work to nonprofit organizations. Additionally, funds raised support Scout Troop 201, scholarships for vocational schools and the annual Kiwanis Family Fun Day Golf Ball Drop.

Beyond local endeavors, the Burbank Kiwanis Club also proudly champions global initiatives in partnership with Kiwanis International. These efforts include collaborating with UNICEF to combat iodine deficiency disorders, a leading preventable cause of goiters and associated health issues, as well as supporting UNICEF’s mission to eradicate maternal and neonatal tetanus, a preventable disease claiming tens of thousands of lives every year.

For more information on supporting or becoming a member of the Burbank Kiwanis Club, visit burbankkiwanis.org.

DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at dlaurell@aol.com or (818) 563-1007.

Showing their support for England’s Arsenal Football Club are Assemblywoman Laura Friedman and her husband, Guillaume Lemoine.
Decked out in Dodger blue are Joe and Sharon Terranova.
State Sen. Anthony Portantino and his wife, Ellen, show their Los Angeles Football Club pride in black and gold.
Debbie Kutka, Eddie Arnold and Linda Wiggins were among the Kiwanians who made this year’s gala a success.
Bringing an East Coast vibe to the evening were Braves fan Janet McKenna and her husband, Paul, showing Flyer pride.
Among the notables in attendance were former Burbank Fire Chief Mike Davis and his wife, JoAnn.

First published in the April 13 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

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