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Around Pleasanton: Mr. Amador program fundraising for kids’ care center

For the past seven years, Amador Valley High School has used its spirited Mr. Amador pageant to make a difference for children with terminal and chronic illnesses. Last year they raised $62,000 for the George Marks Children’s House through fundraising efforts based around the show. This nonprofit San Leandro facility provides ’round-the-clock medical care, counseling and support for children and their families.
“Visiting the George Mark Children’s House was impactful because it made me realize how important places like these are,” said Connor Copenhagen, a Mr. Amador sophomore contestant.  “Kids there can find comfort in a real home, unlike a hospital, which can feel intrusive upon their lives. The nurses and everyone who works there are great at making the kids feel at home.”
This year Mr. Amador consists of 11 contestants who were invited to participate. The boys devote hundreds of hours rehearsing skits, practicing a talent and fundraising. The festivities began months ago and included an improv show, singing for restaurant diners and the Christmas parade.
Directors Alyssa McFarlane and Sara Kenning, both Amador seniors, have had a huge task. Since August they’ve coordinated a 30-member team that works with the administration, seeks sponsorships, plans fundraisers and choreographs the show.
“I’ve been doing this for three years; it’s been eye-opening to realize how much work goes into planning. I’ve also learned a lot about myself — how much I’m capable of doing,” said McFarlane. “Ever since we made the focus of the event fundraising for a worthy cause, it’s changed the excitement level and the amount of effort people put into it.”
Secure student transportation: Oindrila Ray said she couldn’t have pursued her counseling degree while navigating her family’s move back to India this coming summer without help. She has especially come to rely upon SafeRidezz owners Priya and Ravi Khemlani, who transport her 8 year-old son to and from Mohr Elementary School.
“They are wonderful — flexible, kind and my son would rather ride with his friends on their bus than have me pick him up,” said Ray.
The Khelmanis, originally from New York, moved to Pleasanton with their daughter, Simran, now 12, in 2015. Both were commuting to jobs in the area, and as much as they loved Pleasanton, they found the lack of school buses problematic. When Ravi’s job disappeared last August, they decided to go into business together.
“The need found us” said Priya. SafeRidezz’s mission is to safely transport children to schools, sports, activities and homes … basically wherever the young mobile set needs to go. Professional, licensed and fully insured, their first clients were children in the summer special-needs program at Dublin’s Quarry Lane. In just a few months they’ve grown from four drivers and vehicles to seven, with more than 75 clients.
“I’m amazed at how perceptive and bright and aware these kids are. This job is never boring,” said Ravi. For information visit www.saferidezz.com .
Amy Moellering is a freelance writer. Contact her at ajmoellering@gmail.com.

Mr. Amador event
When: 5 p.m. ($10 tickets) and 7 p.m. ($15 tickets) March 26
Where: Amador Valley High School Theater, 1155 Santa Rita Road in Pleasanton
To donate: www.tinyurl.com/donatemramador

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