Kids drive Kmart racers and fight drug use

Rayna Donoho-King, 10, cranked hard on the wheel of the Mustang race car Saturday as she pulled through a hair-pin turn on the winding course in the Kmart parking lot.

Passenger Kelly Circks, along as an adult safety rider, used gestures and encouraging words to guide Rayna through the maze.

As she finished the short course and bounced back to her parents, Rayna wore a huge grin.

Did she scare Circks on those tight turns?

"Naw, she didn't get scared," Rayna said, as her grin got even wider. Then she watched as her friend Rebecca Badzinski chauffeured Circks over a small bridge, around the hairpins and through a short tunnel.

After their rides, the Carson City girls signed a promise that "Because I believe in me, I pledge to live my life drug-free" and received souvenir baseball caps and T-shirts.

The girls were among more than 600 children to drive in Kmart's Kids Race Against Drugs at the Carson City store Saturday. The event continues today 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

The electric-powered racers are for children ages 7-12, Circks said. For the younger set, another course features smaller Power Wheel toys. There are also kids' skill games, balloons and some treats available to add to the fun, she said.

For each child who participates in the big race, Kmart donates $5 to local anti-drug education organizations through the Kmart Family Foundation. The local partners are the Children's Museum of Northern Nevada and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Circks and other members of the traveling team, which takes the portable course from store to store in two semi-trailers, were helped by local Kmart employees as well as some Army and Air National Guard members, supporting the Guards' anti-drug and anti-smoking programs. A large military tank in the parking lot drew the attention of many of the youngsters.

Tracks are also set up today at Kmarts at 3800 Kietzke Lane and 4855 Summit Boulevard in Reno and 2125 Oddie Boulevard in Sparks.

The free race program is intended to show children they can have fun without turning to drugs or alcohol.

Kmart enlists the support of many of its suppliers to sponsor the program, which keeps 20 crews and tracks on the road 10 months a year, Circks said. Among the sponsors are Eveready and Duracell, but Circks didn't know how many D-cells would be needed to run the electrically powered mini-Mustangs.

Each participant in the race was timed to the hundredth of a second and the top 10 in each age and gender group will be entered into a random regional drawing, Circks said. They could win a trip to Orlando, Fla., in January to compete to win $10,000 scholarships.

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