Annual event promotes having fun, staying safe - Canon City Daily Record

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Annual event promotes having fun, staying safe - Canon City Daily Record
Apr 14th 2012, 15:34

It's a tradition that's all about having fun, keeping busy and staying alive.

The annual CaƱon City High School Senior Funfest was initiated after Chris Berry and Cindy Javernick were killed in a car crash while celebrating the weekend before they were set to graduate in 1986.

CCHS seniors gather the afternoon and evening before graduation to play wild and wacky games, take part in contests and make one more high school memory before they receive their diplomas. The prizes offered are what entice students to spend the pre-graduation evening in a safe, fun environment.

The event is sponsored by Sunflower Bank, and co-sponsored by the Rotary Club and the Tiger Pride Booster Club. Sunflower Bank employees Larry Weaver, Claudine Paolino and Shad Johnson are spearheading the 24th annual event.

Paolino is a member of the 1986 graduating class and was with Berry and Javernick the night of the accident.

"We want kids to come, stay, have fun and then go home exhausted and go to bed," she said.

About 85 to 90 percent of the graduating students participate in the event where there is a wide variety of games for students from those who like to be wild and crazy to those who are a bit more calm.

"I think this being our 24th year, it is phenomenal what our community can do together for these kids to keep them safe the night before graduation and keep it going this long," Paolino said. "It is our community that gives us our financial support and volunteers that thrive to see our youth stay youth and enjoy their last hoorah."

Weaver, director of the Funfest, has been with the program for 23 years.

"We're not able to put this on without the tons of businesses, professionals, individuals and clubs that are supporting us," Weaver said.

Unfortunately, the storage shed used to hold the Funfest supplies was broken into last year and pieces of the equipment used for the event were taken. Most of the items are unique and need to be ordered from a specialty store.

"This year is kind of a critical year for us, partly because of trying to recover from what was taken as well as the economic times that have just impacted so many of the people who usually support us," Weaver said.

"We still feel in terms of investing in the community, this is one of the most significant ways, and this is one of the most strategic ways, to honor all of our graduates in one fell swoop," Weaver said. "It kind of takes care of honoring them, congratulating them, as well as keeping them safe."

The annual Funfest budget is between $15,000 and $18,000. Every student receives a prize, from smaller items to the latest electronics.

"Some people might look at the cost of the Funfest and think that it's a significant cost, but I look at it as an investment," Weaver said. "Each one of us has been in a position some time where we have had to deal with the outcome of a tragedy. I guarantee you that anyone of us would rather make the investment of this time, energy and money into this event rather that the investment of if we have a tragic outcome."

He said since Funfest began, there has been no tragic accident the night before graduation, and he hopes to keep it that way.

"What you'll hear from everybody who has attended is that what they really find great delight in is the time they get to spend with their classmates," Weaver said. "What we hear from the parents oftentimes is their great relief knowing their kids are celebrating in a really fun and safe environment."

This year's Funfest is May 25. The cost to replace the stolen items is about $2,400, Weaver said, and contributions also are needed for student prizes. Donations may be dropped off or mailed to Sunflower Bank at 831 Main St. or at the Walmart branch. Contributors are reminded to write "Funfest" in the memo field of checks. For more information, call Sunflower Bank at 275-2311 and ask for Weaver, Paolino or Johnson.

Copyright 2012 Canon City Daily Record. All rights reserved.

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