Police Dept. & School District Host Awareness Event
In a one-two punch combo, the local police department and school district recently held the first-ever “Teen Safety & Awareness Night” at John Burroughs High School in the City of Burbank. Open to the public with free admission, attendees entering the Brian Hurst Gym met with several vendors, sponsors, mentors and special guests promoting their services to combat many of the dangers teenagers face daily.
The sport of boxing was also showcased at this spring event with members of the Burbank Boxing Club (BBC) introduced in a live boxing demo. The group was invited to participate in the function by Burbank Police Officer Cindy Guillen-Gomez. The brunette powerhouse has a longtime link to the sweet science as one of the very first members of the BBC. Cindy also competed in the Police Olympics, winning a silver medal in the prestigious tournament.
Along with fellow Officer Joshua Kendrick, Principal Emilio Urioste, school officials, policemen, young Explorers, and area citizens, Officer Guillen-Gomez and company banded together in this community outreach program. Fighting back against drugs and alcohol abuse, bullying, and peer pressure to engage in life-threatening activities, the crowd heard first-hand stories from guest speakers representing MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and Erik’s Cause (“The Choking Game”). Judy Rogg told her emotional story of losing her son, Erik Robinson, from a tragic death caused by trying the “Choking Game.” The mother and daughter duo of Jennifer Robi and Katherine Robi also spoke to the audience about their life-changing tragedy due to a drunk driver.
Teens and pre-teens learned about these two organizations and more in the evening event to empower the youth.
The boxing club then held a demonstration featuring a family of amateur boxers. Assistant Coach David Lopez introduced wife, Angela, and 16-year-old son, Damien, who both love the tough workout boxing offers; their older son, David, also boxes. Team Lopez spoke of the benefits that boxing offers for overall health, while also improving strength, conditioning and personal fitness. Then the crew got down to business showcasing their skills on the focus mitts. Angie was a dynamo showin’ off her mean uppercut while teenage son Damien shined in his speed and quick reflexes.
Burbank Boxing Club Founder and Head Coach Steve Harpst also mentioned the boxing connection to Officer Cindy, whom he praised as a talented amateur fighter back in the day. Guillen-Gomez and her brother, Juan Guillen, were both regulars in the boxing class. “They were both extremely coachable and very competitive,” their trainer remembers. “Cindy was a smart fighter who could hit hard. Her best weapon was her right hand.”
The athlete and officer parlayed these strong mental and physical skills when she joined the police force. Now Cindy’s choice of weaponry is the 30-pound belt she wears around her waist, equipped with the requisite tools of being a peace officer. And as a mother of a toddler, the fit Guillen-Gomez still looks like she could step back in the ring at any given time. She told the young adults gathered about her time in the ring, recalled highlights of amateur boxing, and spoke of the confidence and sense of empowerment she gained while boxing.
After the speeches and demos concluded, the guests had a chance to meet with many of the vendors set up in the gym who handed out fun free giveaways to the crowd, all to raise awareness in helping the kids and teenagers in the community.
Coach Harpst and Coach Lopez met with the men, women and children visiting their booth. Lopez is an example of how families can train together at the gym and he encouraged parents to work out with their own kids, whether or not they go on to compete or not they will still gain invaluable skills. Many of the visitors at the booth were new to the sport of boxing, mentioning it was the first time they saw a live demonstration in person. Several families were intrigued by the combat sport and it’s interactive qualities for families. The BBC team also gave out coupons from sponsors like Daphne’s California Greek and info from Improve Balance Bands. The club also displayed their boxing trainer’s other passion–art. Supporting amateur boxing, Harpst’s new sculptures were shown of kids lacing up and facing off.
All in all, this 2012 “Teen Awareness” night was a real knockout.
Burbank Police Lt. John Dilibert says this inaugural event was also made possible by the Justice Assistance Grant (JAG). All were happy to be able to hold this community outreach gathering with members of local law enforcement. The “Street Beat” officer told me, “This is a great public function that will help get the kids engaged in learning about new things that enhances their safety.” The committee plans to make this an annual event and making it bigger and better each year.
Learning about various safety measures in a fun environment, a KO good time was had by all.
Photos by Michele Chong