Living Sky High Dreams

By Shelly Lembke  |  2017-05-25

Darcy Brewer leans casually against a cherry red vintage Waco aircraft during a visit to Bryce Canyon, Utah. “The hangar is like a giant barn,” states Brewer. --Photo courtesy Darcy Brewer

Air Show Director Darcy Brewer Soars to the Challenge

Darcy Brewer, the director of the hugely popular California Capital Airshow (CCA), recently sat for Q&A that was a little unusual. She generally fields questions about the CCA, but offers the public a special insider’s look at her position and how she handles her enormous responsibilities.

Q: Can you please tell me about your position with the airshow?
A: My official title is Executive Director, which for an organization with so few staff always seemed a bit funny to me. The image in my head of a non-profit ED usually includes a mop and a variety of cleaning supplies (it’s just THAT glamorous). But in reality, this position does have a great amount of responsibility/ accountability as my primary job is keeping everyone together and informed…over 1,000 volunteers, 20+ members of the California Capital Airshow (CCA) Board of Directors, a six-county region of residents.

Q: What does an average day entail on the off-season?
A: Good question, but there never seems to be an ‘off season’! With Show preparation taking place two to three years in advance and such a varied duty roster, ya’ just never know what’s gonna pop up from day to day. Aside from the regularly scheduled meetings we are always surprised with an unexpected opportunity.

Q: What does an average day entail during the event?
A: Delightful chaos. 18-20 hour days (for a more than a week, not just the two event days the public sees), media support begins around 4:30am, daily volunteer check-in, ramp inspection when daylight breaks and pilot briefings -- all prior to gates opening for our fabulous fans.

Q: What personal, professional and educational experiences prepared you for where you are now?
A: I can’t imagine what could prepare anyone for the juggling act this project requires – much like many other unique career choices, you just have to jump in and figure it out. Although college gave me the educational foundation needed, I can look back from this vantage point now and see how important the guest experience training and work ethic learned from my jobs as a student have also played a key role.

Shortly after my college years, I went into the event management industry traveling internationally for decades then much later found my true place in the world when I merged the skills acquired from my first career with my lifelong passion for aviation. Of course being a pilot and vigilant with a checklist doesn’t hurt with a project of this size and complexity. Who knew a job like this even existed?

Q: Do you fly?
A: I have been flying since I was 17 years old. I truly believe that you will find no greater sense of excitement, adventure, and personal accomplishment than the feeling of your first flight. I will never forget that day nor the encouraging voice in the tower. Finding a way to share this excitement in my work, every single day - is a dream come true.

Q: What was it like for you when you were first hired for this position?
A: Delightful chaos again. There is no training manual for this job and there had never been an Executive Director before. All you can do is jump in, try your best to make good choices and figure it out. In fact, I can tell you I still encounter something new every day and I’m sure the lessons learned will likely never end. Work hard, do your very best, ask for help when you need it.

Q: How do you feel the airshow has changed since you took the helm?
A: Well, I’m not sure the major changes had much to do with me. Someone would have energetically led the team, but it was natural for the event to grow and we were fortunate to have the space to grow BIG. We live in an incredibly patriotic community with an enormous veteran population and deeply dedicated educators who clearly understand how what we do relates to science, technology, engineering and mathematics efforts in the classroom – and history, too.

The performances, interactive exhibits and displays and educational programs are designed to inspire young minds; spark imagination, teach students something that a book, classroom or museum cannot. This alone is a powerful example of how an Airshow can change the world, one kid at a time.

Q: What are your future goals or vision for the event in the coming years?
A: Honor our past, inspire the future and shine a spotlight on our region. The CCA is an exciting, family-friendly non-profit event designed to honor the Sacramento region’s rich aviation heritage and veterans. Using the power and magic of flight to inspire young people to pursue education and careers in science, technology, engineering, math, aviation, aeronautics or aerospace. This nonprofit organization gives back to the community through scholarships, charitable group donations, and exciting educational youth programs throughout the year.
While this 501c3 was originally designed to support an annual scholarship, this non-profit organization has grown to serve in a variety of other ways. Ultimately, we hope to reach an endowment level for STEM, Aviation and Aerospace scholarships that will serve and assist the students from our region for many years to come.

Q: Please tell me about you. Where did you grow up and what was that like for you (city, state, family, etc.)?
A: I am a California girl, born in San Francisco. My parents retired to Roseville which brought me to this area more than 12 years ago. I have two remarkable sisters, a brother that I adore and a gaggle of brilliant nieces and nephews. We are all very different from each other and so very close.

Q: How would you describe yourself as a child? As a teen? As a high school student?
A: I was very quiet as a student; I read all the time and had a wild imagination.

Q: What did you want to be when you grew up?
A: A lawyer, a veterinarian, a marine- biologist, a horse trainer, a travel writer and explorer. What I did know is that I would have a hard time sitting still and being inside in an office every day.

Q: You are a professional woman in a very prominent role in this community. What is that like for you?
A: Prominent? Me? Nah. What I do is fun and meaningful. It’s a labor of love. It’s hard work, we get tired, dehydrated, sunburned and there are never enough hours in the day, but If you could see the smiles on the faces of the kids who come out, the tears of the WWII veterans who are moved by the tribute performances we produce each year, then you would want to be me when you grow up regardless of the long hours and never-ending challenges.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time? How do you recharge your batteries?
A: I fly. Sometimes to actually go somewhere. Sometimes just to go up. I am rarely indoors and enjoy ‘chore-therapy’ keeping my small hobby farm with some pretty darned cute animals, a greenhouse and garden – love to cook and surround myself with lots of books. Also, I rarely go anywhere without George, my extraordinary Border Collie.

Q: What inspires you to get out of bed each morning?
A: I never know what will cross my path from day to day and that is exciting. Who will I meet? What new program will we develop to serve our community or for kids to knock their socks off and encourage them to reach for the stars, fear nothing and know no limits or boundaries.

Q: What is your favorite part of your job?
A: Too much to list. The Show itself is too thrilling for words, but the kid’s programs throughout the year are the most meaningful to me. I get to spend time with them, get to know their stories, hopes and dreams – who they are and what they want to become. I see their faces light up as they climb in a plane for the very first time or meet a hero or legend that has used their education to literally change the world. It is magical what happens; to watch their imaginations soar right in front of my eyes.

Sac Choral Society

Five Local “Blue Star Museums” Offer Free Admission to Military Personnel and Their Families This Summer

Source: T-Rock Communications  |  2017-05-26

Five Sacramento area museums will participate in Blue Star Museums, a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense and museums across America to offer free admission to all active duty military personnel and their families from Memorial Day (May 29) through Labor Day (September 4), 2017. The five local museums participating in Blue Star Museums include the following:  California Automobile Museum, California Museum, Crocker Art Museum, Fairytale Town and the Sacramento History Museum.

This year, more than 2,000 (and counting) museums in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and American Samoa are taking part in the initiative. The participating museums represent the fine arts, science, history, Native centers, children’s museums and more. The free admission program is available to any bearer of a Geneva Convention common access card (CAC), a DD Form 1173 ID card, or a DD Form 1173-1 ID card, which includes active duty military (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard), National Guard and Reserve members and up to five immediate family members.

Before planning a visit, please contact the individual museums for hours of operation and note some are normally closed on Mondays and in observance of holidays such as Memorial Day and Labor Day. For more information or a complete list of participating Blue Star museums, please visit For more information about SAM or upcoming activities offered by local museums, “like” them on Facebook at, follow them on Twitter at @SacMuseums or visit the user-friendly website at

Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 2,000 museums across America. The program runs from Memorial Day, May 30, 2016 through Labor Day, September 5, 2016. For more information, visit

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SMUD and GRID Alternatives Partner

Source: SMUD Media  |  2017-05-26

Provide Solar Panels and Energy Efficiency Upgrades to Low-Income Customers

GRID Alternatives is a national nonprofit focused on making renewable energy technology and job training accessible to underserved communities. SMUD has worked closely with GRID Alternatives to help them find candidates eligible to receive free solar electricity systems in SMUD’s service territory. SMUD reaches out directly to customers who are currently enrolled in SMUD’s Energy Assistance Program Rate (EAPR). Interested customers contact GRID Alternatives directly to continue the process and potentially receive a free solar electricity system. The systems are funded by California Climate Investments, a statewide program that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities.

SMUD energy experts also work with the selected customers to perform complete energy audits of their homes and determine the most effective ways to improve each home’s energy efficiency. Contractors then install multiple efficiency measures, which can include upgrades to insulation, lighting, weather-stripping and more. All of these upgrades are done at no cost to the customer.

“We’re committed to helping all of our customers save energy and money,” said SMUD’s Chief Customer Officer Nicole Howard. “Partnering with GRID Alternatives to provide free solar electricity systems along with energy efficiency upgrades is a win-win for our underserved communities.”

SMUD and GRID Alternatives have completed upgrades to approximately 50 homes in Sacramento County to date. SMUD expects to complete upgrades to another approximately 150 homes over the next 18 months.

“For over a decade, GRID Alternatives has been on the leading edge of creating access to solar and solar technology for low-income communities,” said GRID Alternatives North Valley Executive Director Bob Gragson. “In Sacramento County, SMUD’s leadership has helped us to deliver services to families in the greatest need through our program.”

SMUD is also working to provide energy efficiency upgrades to low-income customers beyond the scope of the GRID Alternatives partnership. SMUD currently has three additional programs—Deep Home Energy Saver, Energy Saver Home Bundle and Energy Saver Apartment Bundle—that are designed to provide SMUD’s EAPR customers with energy efficiency upgrades. SMUD’s Board of Directors has approved the allocation of more than $10 million to these programs over the next several years above and beyond the current program’s budget.

To learn more about SMUD’s programs for low-income customers, visit To learn more about GRID Alternatives, visit

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Standing Up for Kids

By MPG Staff  |  2017-05-25

Local organizations and their leaders came together at the Playmakers fundraiser to donate over $30,000 to support the afterschool program. The groups included Sacramento Breakfast Optimists, Citrus Heights Rotary, Rancho Cordova Rotary and County Club Optimists. 
-- Staff photo

Local Service Groups Make Major Donations to Playmakers

There are some programs for kids that make a huge difference in their lives right away. Playmakers is one of them. Local organizations and service groups stood up and supported Playmakers, a mentoring program that provides free afterschool character and leadership for 3rd through 6th graders.

The Tri-Tip BBQ Dinner fundraiser was held at Divine Savior Catholic Church in Orangevale on April 29th. Over 250 friends and businesses attended to show their support for the growing organization and their hard-working team of mentors.

Playmakers nonprofit organization is designed for at-risk kids who need assistance with academics and young leadership development. Its program includes 3 daily training segments of character development, reading and a variety of sports and recreational games for both boys and girls. It has operated its programs for 5 years and is now on 7 campuses throughout Sacramento.

The organization employs an inspiring group of trained mentors and coaches that includes former Sac State football players and college graduates. The organization believes that these qualified and impressive mentors make all the difference in the program’s results. Playmakers also creates tremendous incentives for participants’ achievements, including field trips to Stanford football games, Sac State games and trampoline field trips.

If you would like to contribute to the program, or learn how to participate in Playmakers, contact Coach Roz at or call them at 916 220-1284.

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CRUSH LIFE: Inspiration From the Field

Story and Photos by Ethan Van Horn (Age 13)  |  2017-05-25

Our Wounded Warriors can still take a big swing at life.

I have been playing America’s game ever since I was 3 years old. I love the smell of a stadium hot dog, fresh cut grass, and the sound of a ball when it hits the bat. Baseball is my sport. I enjoy it on and off the field, and I can truly say it is the most beautiful sport around. I’ve been blessed with the speed to run from home to first base in under 4.5 seconds; that’s 90 feet! While I feel lucky to have such talent, I must admit I rarely consider what it would be like not to have these abilities.

I recently had the opportunity to spend a day with the Wounded Warriors Amputee Softball Team who is made up of some incredibly brave people…true heroes! Not just because they served in the United States military, but because they are amazing, inspiring, and all around brave souls. These men and women were wounded in combat; some lost their arms, some lost their legs… but they never lost their will to succeed!

My dad has been active duty for over ten years now, and I have watched him deploy twice and come back home safely. I never once thought about my dad losing an arm or a leg. I admit feeling like he is indestructible, sort of assuming he would be okay. But the truth is, when a soldier goes to war they are risking their life: there is no guarantee they will be safe.

These warriors went to war just like my dad but they were injured, injured bad. I honestly didn’t know what I was getting into meeting this team. I had never met anyone who lost an arm or leg, and I was a little nervous at first. I kept thinking to myself “What if I offend them with my questions?” I sure didn’t want to do that.

But as I watched these men and women play ball, I realized we share a love of the game. Their bases may not be 90 feet apart, but who cares?! These athletes are doing exactly what I do when I lace up my cleats and hit the field: they are playing the best game around: baseball!

I sat down with two of the players, Cody and Josh, to ask them some questions about their past, and I as in awe by their stories. These athletes were just doing their job, the job they were trained to do, and then the unthinkable happened. They could have given up, but instead they found the courage and the drive to keep on going. They found a new cause to fight for, and refused to let anything get in their way.

Whether they believe it or not they are still heroes, every time they take the field or saddle up to the plate. These athletes get out on that ball field and run, dive for balls, scale the wall for that winning catch, and play their hearts out over and over again. I am sure they must be in pain from time to time, must occasionally stumble on their new legs, but they never give up. By refusing to drop their glove to the ground and quit a game, they send a powerful message about never giving up in life.

I will leave you with something one of the players, Nick, told me, something that will stick with me for the rest of my life. Nick is amazing, his story is so inspiring—this hero has been through more than most of us will ever go through in our lifetime, and he still carries a smile on his face and lives life to the fullest. I asked all the players to sign my jersey, and along with his signature Nick added something special: his personal motto.

I hope it will inspire you as it does me, “Crush Life!”

First printed in MILITARY KIDS' LIFE magazine. Reprinted by permission.

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Teaching Yoga to the Blind

By Kristin ThĂ©baud  |  2017-05-24

Samantha Adams, accompanied by her guide dog Lotto, teaches yoga classes to others who are visually impaired at Society for the Blind. 
-- Photos courtesy Kristin Thébaud

Sharing Balance and Peace with Others Who Are Visually Impaired

When Gold River resident Samantha Adams says anyone can do yoga, she really means anyone. Last summer, she taught chair yoga at nonprofit Society for the Blind in Sacramento to a visually impaired 94-year-old, his wife of 74 years and their 65-year-old daughter.

Adams laughs when she talks about the part of her yoga teacher training that is most challenging to teachers – learning how to do yoga blindfolded. Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (RP) at age 12 and declared legally blind at age 19, Adams had high partial vision until age 40. By the time she took the yoga teacher training, she was 47 and could only see light.

“One of the most challenging parts about teaching yoga is that people are so used to visual cues that they don’t know how to listen,” Adams said. “Teaching yoga at Society for the Blind is great because everyone is already used to relying on senses other than vision.”

Now at age 49, Adams has been a volunteer yoga teacher at Society for the Blind for more than a year, along with volunteer yoga teacher Kiara Winans. She and Winans now teach a focused style of yoga each month on Wednesdays at 11:45 a.m. at Society for the Blind, aimed at beginners. Adams’ guide dog Lotto participates in all of her classes, resting on his own yoga mat and coming to her side when she ends class with the word “namaste.”

“I love being able to share yoga,” Adams said. “Yoga has given me balance and peace. I can take all of the chaos of my life and set it aside for a little while.”

Her own yoga journey began when she moved to Sacramento from Canada to be with her fiancé, who also is visually impaired and received services at Society for the Blind years before.

“I just walked into a class at the gym and decided to try it,” she said. “I had no idea what I was doing, but it became a good way to cope with how my whole life had changed.”

At that point, Adams had left Canada and a career as a prosecutor with the federal government. She went from being a single mom working 60 hours a week to suddenly having a blended family with two teenage stepdaughters and no job. Not long after, her vision began to deteriorate rapidly.

“I had to stop fighting myself and stop trying to do things like a sighted person,” she said. “I learned that lesson in my head 25 years ago, but I didn’t fully know what it would be like until I was forced to put it into practice. It’s kind of like being pregnant and knowing you’re going to have to give birth, but then you actually have to do it. It’s actually easier now that I’m not thinking I see things when I don’t. It’s easier to not have my vision mixed up in there.”

Now teaching at Society for the Blind, Adams has had opportunities to teach weekly beginning yoga classes of different styles, including vinyasa flow and chair yoga, as well as workshops.

“My ultimate goal is for my students to become so comfortable with yoga that they can walk into a yoga studio to take classes and not feel intimidated,” Adams said. “For now, I’m watching my students here develop more body awareness and better physical balance. You can really feel the energy in the room.”

For more than 60 years, Society for the Blind in Sacramento has created innovative ways to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop and achieve their full potential. Society for the Blind has grown from a dedicated group of volunteers that included the Lions Clubs of America to a nationally recognized agency and the only comprehensive rehabilitative teaching center that provides services for a 27-county region of northern California. The nonprofit provides low-vision eye care, life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for 6,000 youth, adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to make a donation, visit

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Dignity Health Finally Breaks Ground on Medical Complex, Eyes 2019 Opening

Story and Photo by Jacqueline Fox  |  2017-05-24

Officials break ground on new Dignity Health Mercy Medical Group office building in Citrus Heights. From left are Citrus Heights City Manager Chris Boyd, Alan Shatzel, DO, Incoming CEO Mercy Medical Group, Inc., Sister Bridget McCarthy, vice president, Mission Integration, Dignity Health, Sigrid Owyang, vice president, operations, Dignity Health Medical Foundation, Michael Korpiel, Interim CEO, Mercy San Juan Medical Center and Citrus Heights Mayor, Jeff Slowey.

After nearly two years of delays involving legal challenges, financing issues and wet weather, the first of a multi-phase construction plan for Dignity Health’s three-story medical complex at Greenback Lane and Fountain Square Drive is underway.

Groundbreaking for Dignity Health’s long-anticipated, 68,000-square-foot medical building took place Monday, paving the way for the first phase of construction for the project on the former city hall site, which has been sitting vacant since the old structure was demolished in 2015.

“We are all very excited and thrilled to finally be able to bring this terrific project forward,” said Dignity Health Spokeswoman, Brooke Burgess just prior to the groundbreaking ceremony.

According to Burgess, the new medical professional building will offer a range of primary and specialty care services delivered by a team of roughly 50 medical providers and an additional 120 support personnel. Those services will include primary care, pediatrics, family medicine and dermatology, Burgess said.

In addition to the jobs being created and the addition of critical medical care services, the project is being widely lauded as the first of what are likely more efforts by officials to attract a mix of new businesses to the city, which some agree is too reliant on retail, a sector of the economy struggling to compete against the fast-paced growth of online retailers, as well as large, outdoor retail “experience” malls, offering a mix of shops, eateries, cinemas and community gathering space.

“This is a very important project for the city, not only because of the great services it will bring in and the jobs being created here in Citrus Heights, but also because it will contribute a great deal to our plans to diversify our economy,” said Monica Alejandrez, assistant to the city manager. “We are retail heavy here and this new project is going to be a very beneficial addition to our city.”

The Dignity Health complex is part of what began as a hotly-contested $53.2 million project approved by the city in spring of 2015 that included demolition of the old city hall complex and construction of a new one, which now sits a block away and directly across the street from the Citrus Heights Police Department. Although challenged by at least one law suit initially, the Dignity Health project carries a $7 million lease agreement with Dignity Health for the vacant site. Those funds, city officials have said, are intended to be used to help offset the costs for construction of the new city hall complex.

So far, however, the city has received only a $1 million “good faith” payment from Dignity Health, as well as another roughly $1 million to cover costs associated with the demolition of the old city hall complex, Alejandrez said. Once in place, consistent payments from Dignity Health will start to flow.

There were initial delays on the project, due to at least one law suit challenging its environmental impact on the site and community, including traffic and congestion concerns. Although legal challenges have been settled and the project has been cleared to go for months, Alejandrez said the company incurred further setbacks after several failed attempts to secure financing for construction. Dignity Health has since made the decision to pay for the project out of its own pocket, but groundbreaking plans have been further delayed due to protracted wet weather this past winter, she said.

“It’s been a combination of weather and Dignity Health’s ability to obtain its financing,” said Alejandrez. “Now they have decided to just finance the project themselves, so there are no more hold ups.”

The project build will take place in three phases over the next two years, beginning with initial construction, which is expected to take a minimum of one year, followed by six months of what Burgess described as “tenant improvements,” and another six months after that to complete interior infrastructure-related components. All told, roughly four years will have passed between demolition of the old city hall and Dignity Health’s grand opening.

“We are anticipating we will see the doors open to the new building some time in spring of 2019,” said Burgess. “We are moving on a project that is going to take time for all phases to be completed, but it will ultimately be a significant addition to the community of Citrus Heights.”

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Register for “Criminal Justice Shadow Day”

Source: Sacramento County Media  |  2017-05-24

Sacramento County high school students are encouraged to register for the 3rd Annual “Criminal Justice Shadow Day.” This unique program gives high school students an opportunity to job shadow professionals from various criminal justice agencies.

Based on the area of interest, students will be paired with prosecuting attorneys, defense attorneys, probation officers, law enforcement officers, investigators and judges to get a first-hand look at the criminal justice process and the different roles within the system. There will also be a presentation on crime scene investigations (CSI), evidence collection, and forensic science used to solve crimes.

This year’s Criminal Justice Shadow Day will be held from 8 a.m. - 2 p.m., Friday, June 16, at the Board of Supervisors’ Chambers in the Sacramento County Administration Building located at 700 H Street, Sacramento.

The program is open to current Sacramento County high school students (incoming 9th graders through 12th graders). Students will need to submit completed registration forms and a signed permission slip, which can be downloaded at The deadline to register is June 9, 2017.

Space is limited and on a first come, first served basis.

DA Anne Marie Schubert states, “Since its launch in 2015, close to 200 students from 56 schools across Sacramento County have participated in the Criminal Justice Shadow Day. The success of the program is a result of the partnerships we have with our criminal justice colleagues, and our shared commitment to engage with our youth and inspire them to pursue careers in the justice system.”

The Criminal Justice Shadow Day is one of several DA youth programs designed to increase understanding and build positive relationships between youth and members of the criminal justice system.

See more at:

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Vettes & Vets: The American Muscle Car Show

Source: T-Rock Communications  |  2017-05-24

The Vettes & Vets and American Muscle Car Show is being held Monday, May 29, 2017 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the California Automobile Museum, 2200 Front Street, Sacramento. 
-- Photo courtesy of the California Automobile Museum

Hit the road to the California Automobile Museum on Memorial Day for the 8th Annual Vettes & Vets and American Muscle Car Show sponsored by Performance Chevrolet. The popular annual event celebrates America’s love for the automobile while honoring our country’s brave veterans and active duty military. All car owners and enthusiasts are encouraged to enter their vehicles – especially Corvettes, American “muscle cars” and military vehicles – in the show that takes place in a parking lot behind the Museum. At noon, the amazing cars on display will be judged in a variety of categories including a best-in-division award for each generation of Corvette.

In addition to the eye-catching automobiles, attendees will be treated to a DJ spinning some classic summer tunes, military color guard and national anthem along with a barbecue lunch available for purchase.

Car show guests are encouraged to visit the California Automobile Museum that has a world-class and ever-changing collection of vintage and classic vehicles on display. Plus, this is a great opportunity to catch the last weekend of the special “To the Rescue: Fire Trucks and People that Saved Our Cities” exhibit. Lastly, military veterans and active duty military (and their families) will receive FREE museum admission all day on Memorial Day in recognition of their service.

The car show is FREE for spectators. To register a vehicle, pre-registration cost is $30 (includes free admission to the museum for driver and one guest). Museum admission is $10 for Adults, $9 for Vintage (ages 65+), $5 Youth (ages 6-18), FREE for children 5 and under. On 5/29, Veterans and Active Duty Military and their families get in FREE.

The Vettes & Vets and American Muscle Car Show is being held Monday, May 29, 2017 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. *Gates open at 8 a.m. for show vehicles at the California Automobile Museum, 2200 Front Street, Sacramento.

For More information: 916-442-6802 or

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Sacramento nonprofit Society for the Blind is one of 13 groups across the nation – and one of only three in California – that are competing in the United States Association of Blind Athletes’ and Anthem Blue Cross Foundation’s fifth annual National Fitness Challenge. Society for the Blind and its competitors will provide more than 300 blind and visually impaired youth and adults with an opportunity to increase their physical fitness levels and live healthier, more active lives. Other California participants are Junior Blind in Los Angeles and Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired in the Bay Area.

“We are pleased to again partner with USABA to help break down barriers, and leverage technology to help those with vision impairments enjoy the physical and emotional benefits of exercise,” said Brian Ternan, president of Anthem Blue Cross. “Together, we want to ensure that those with visual impairments are not denied the opportunity to lead an active life and have the opportunity to avoid the health risks that come from a sedentary lifestyle.”

Research has consistently shown that individuals who participate in regular physical activity to improve their health have higher energy levels, a lower risk of health-related diseases, improved psychological health, and lower rates of depression and anxiety. Because of the many barriers and misconceptions about their abilities, approximately 70 percent of the nearly 56,000 children and youth who are blind and visually impaired in the United States do not participate in even a limited physical education curriculum.

When the National Fitness Challenge kicked off in Sacramento this spring, participants who signed up with Society for the Blind had a number of physically challenging activities to look forward to. In efforts to increase participants’ levels and step counts, staff at Society for the Blind will be working with dance instructors, personal trainers, judo instructors and more. In addition to raising their overall physical activity, participants will also become more aware of opportunities in their community.

“Society for the Blind is honored and excited to again be a part of the National Fitness Challenge,” said Shari Roeseler, executive director. “This partnership with USABA and Anthem raises awareness and, more importantly, participation of people with vision loss in health and fitness activities. We look forward to friendly challenges among our fellow participating agencies as we increase the physical fitness and overall health and wellness of our participants.”

For more than 60 years, Society for the Blind has created innovative ways to empower individuals living with low vision or blindness to discover, develop and achieve their full potential. Society for the Blind has grown from a dedicated group of volunteers that included the Lions Clubs of America to a nationally recognized agency and the only comprehensive rehabilitative teaching center that provides services for a 27-county region of northern California. The nonprofit provides low-vision eye care, life and job skills training, mentorship, and access to tools to maintain independence for 6,000 youth, adults and seniors experiencing vision loss each year. For more information or to make a donation:

Since its founding in 1976, USABA, a community-based organization of the United States Olympic Committee, has reached more than 100,000 blind individuals. The organization has emerged as more than just a world-class trainer of blind athletes, it has become a champion of the abilities of Americans who are legally blind with a mission to enhance the lives of blind and visually impaired people by providing the opportunity for participation in sports and physical activity. For more information:, or on Facebook as United States Association of Blind Athletes.

In addition to grant funding, Anthem Blue Cross Foundation will provide volunteers at events across the state during the nine-month program. Local employees will have the opportunity to meet participants and help them achieve their health and wellness goals.

Through charitable grant making, the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation LLC, an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Association promotes Anthem Blue Cross’s inherent commitment to enhance the health and well-being of individuals and families in communities that the company serves. The foundation focuses its funding on strategic initiatives that address and provide innovative solutions to health care challenges, as well as promoting the Healthy Generations Program, a multi-generational initiative that targets specific disease states and medical conditions. These include: prenatal care in the first trimester, low birth weight babies, cardiac morbidity rates, long term activities that decrease obesity and increase physical activity, diabetes prevalence in adult populations, adult pneumococcal and influenza vaccinations and smoking cessation. The Foundation also coordinates the company’s year-round Associate Giving program and its parent foundation provides a 50 percent match of associates’ pledges.

®ANTHEM is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. The Blue Cross names and symbol are registered marks of the Blue Cross Association. Anthem Blue Cross is the trade name of Blue Cross of California. Anthem Blue Cross and Anthem Blue Cross Life and Health Insurance Company are independent licensees of the Blue Cross Association. For more information:, or

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