Despite the economy, the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians continues to give back to the surrounding community, contributing $2 million or more each year to charitable, civic and community organizations. In recent months, Viejas donated time and money to companies and events such as the Ronald McDonald House, Taste at the Cove, Girl Scouts of San Diego, Meals on Wheels, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, just to name a few. Although the Viejas Community Relations Department coordinates most of these donations, the spirit of giving actually begins within the tribal community, with the Viejas Tribal Council's Contributions Committee reviewing, selecting and supporting organizations and causes that benefit Native Americans. Individual tribal members are then encouraged to contribute in whatever way possible to these charities. One charity profiting from this approach is the Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk, benefiting the Susan G. Komen Foundation. For the past three years this event, which takes place each November, has garnered Viejas support and participation from individual tribal members motivated by a desire to do something to help others. Rene Curo and Millie Grijalva were two of the first Viejas tribal community participants in the Breast Cancer 3-Day in 2007. They were inspired by their personal trainer to do the walk as a testament to healthy living. "It was not until the opening ceremony that I understood what a difference I was making in so many lives," Curo said. "That event was a very overwhelming, but positive, experience and that is what has really kept me inspired over the next three walks. Plus it's a really fun experience for us to do together! While breast cancer has not directly impacted their family, Ral Christman and his wife Vanessa have participated in the walk for the past two years, in support of those suffering from the disease. "My wife lost both her aunt and grandmother to other cancers," Christman said. "Cancer is cancer and it is hard for anyone to go through, so we walked to honor and help those that have been affected." "No matter the individual reason for getting involved, overall this event is a great cause because a huge concern for us as women is breast cancer," said Rebecca Cuero, a newcomer to the event who trained throughout the year to be fit for the three-day walk. In addition to walking, each participating Viejas team member committed to raising $2,300 for the charity. The team met this goal in creative ways-selling Indian Tacos at various events around San Diego, creating and marketing specially made team sweatshirts, sponsoring a "Cow Pie Bingo" event and by hawking baked goods to friends and family. Collectively, this participation fundraising continues to make a substantial contribution to a wonderful organization that helps so many.
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