Trip to Junior Olympics faces a tough hurdle | July 15, 2011 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

Sports - July 15, 2011

Trip to Junior Olympics faces a tough hurdle

by Keith Peters

Thirteen members of the Peninsula Youth Sports Program did their job recently at the AAU West Coast Junior Olympic Games in Reno, Nev. All 13 earned a trip to the National Junior Olympics track and field competition in New Orleans, set for July 31-Aug. 6.

That was the easy part. Now comes the tough part. The team is in jeopardy of not attending due to lack of funding.

The East Palo Alto-based track and field club is in the process of trying to raise $18,000 to pay for expenses for all 13 athletes and their chaperones.

"If the money isn't raised, then many of our athletes won't be able to go," said Lerisa Puckett, a team mom who registers the athletes for each meet and who is spearheading the fundraising drive.

The track club, in its fourth year, is a nonprofit organization that promotes after-school programs as a positive resource for the underserved youth on the Peninsula. The club's outreach efforts focus on the youth from East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park, who attend the Ravenswood City School District.

"The state and federal programs for schools and after-school activities that help with the development of youth have been cut deeply," said Puckett. "Keeping our children off the streets and participating in activities that build character, ethics and morals is the mission of this track club.

"This is an extremely rigorous task, as the crime rate in the neighborhoods that these kids play, indirectly affect their psyche. The reward of making it to the nationals and actually attending them keep these kids on the right path to success. Part of their pride comes from representing their families, neighborhoods and the entire Bay Area."

Club members advancing from the qualifying event earlier this month in Reno included Keyshawn Ashford (Sub-Midget), Mekhi Blackmon (Midget), Kevin Lagarde (Primary), Denise Stine (Sub-Bantam), Emma Chiao (Sub-Midget), LaJon Harris (Sub-Midget), Justin Chiao (Sub-Bantam), Makiya Francis (Intermediate), Dejeane Stine (Midget), Jailah Francis (Midget), a girls' 400 relay team (Midget) of Jailah Francis, Taevia Vauss, Niyha Brooks and Stine, plus a boys' 400 relay team (Midget) of Floyd Gazaway, Ashford, Harris and Blackmon.

Ashford was first in the 200 (28.20) and second in the 100 (13.63); Blackmon was sixth in the 100 (13.75) and seventh in the 200 (28.01); Lagarde was fifth in the 400 (1:24.00) and eighth in the 200 (32.58); Denise Stine was second in the shot put (18-1) and fourth in the 400 (1:22.16); Dejeane Stine was ninth in the 400 (1:11.77); Emma Chiao was second in the 800 (3:01.17); Harris was seventh in the 100 (15.71) and 200 (33.31); Justin Chiao was sixth in the fifth in the 800 (3:01.17) and sixth in the 400 (1:14.99); Makiya Francis was fourth in the long jump (15-9 1/2); Jailah Francis was third in the shot put (20-4); while the girls' relay finished second in 56.92 and the boys were third in 55.79.

The team is coached by Michael Davidson.

For those interested in helping defray the club's $18,000 travel expenses, tax-deductible donation can be made at the club's website at For more information, contact Lerisa Puckett at (650) 468-3115.


Posted by Kel, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jul 19, 2011 at 12:19 am

I was there on the newspaper and is one of the athletes ...and I hope we make enough during funraising to make it to New Orleans.

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields


Best Of Palo Alto ballot is here

It's time to decide what local business is worthy of the title "Best Of Palo Alto" — and you get to decide! Cast your ballot online. Voting ends May 29th. Stay tuned for the results in the July 21st issue of the Palo Alto Weekly.