Written by Denise Gary
Photographs © Bruce Matsunaga and Denise Gary

The first annual HIKRZ Jamboree Presented by GoDaddy.com was simply amazing!  As I watched the many storytellers, authors, illustrators, and other creative individuals entertain the children, I knew on the spot that the next time Kids Need to Read organized this event, we would do so for area disadvantaged children.

Author/Naturalist Brooke Bessesen

It will be an incredible opportunity afforded to children unaccustomed to the joy of watching authors bringing stories to life and rangers bringing the outdoors to life.

The presenters involved have all voiced a desire to return to inspire the imaginations of the participating children, and to watch them leave with their HIKRZ backpacks filled with exciting books and magazines.

My favorite memory of the day has to be when 6 year Rhiannon read a message she had written to us at the event.

It was a hot day. We went hiking. It was fun. You are fun KNTR. – Rhiannon

As you can see, Rhiannon really made my day!

Another great memory was hearing author PJ Haarsma gloating that he easily made it to Wind Cave at the top of Pass Mountain, all the while accusing me of trying to make him suffer.  Who me?

© Daanon DeCock

I am not responsible for this mishap on the rock . . . no matter what the text messages may say!

One person who always imprints happy memories is author/illustrator Steven Riley.  Young or old, his crazy performances always make an impression.

Steven performs his famous Faerie Dance!

His famous faerie dance is a crowd pleaser.  He is a constant source of laughter to me and a favorite of the KNTR volunteers.

Of course, the best part of the day was seeing the children smiling, reading books, and playing in the outdoors.

Our volunteers could not have been more outstanding, functioning as an extraordinarily seasoned team.  The event went off without a hitch (except when I started the hike-a-thoners down the wrong trail . . . all part of the plan to make PJ suffer, of course).

KNTR Development Director Debbie Brown

I thank Debbie Brown and the super-amazing KNTR volunteers for making sure the event was organized and fun.

We are deeply grateful to all of our generous sponsors, particularly our title sponsor GoDaddy.com, Changing Hands Bookstore, Highlights for Children, Whole Foods Market Chandler, and Usery Mountain Regional Park.  Because they and the many other community sponsors believe so strongly in childhood literacy, we were able to create a beautiful and impactful program for children that will be repeated for many years to come.

KNTR Chairman James Blasingame, Executive Director Denise Gary, and Founder PJ Haarsma

See video footage and more photos of the event on our KNTR HIKRZ Jamboree web page.
Complete photo coverage can be found in our KNTR HIKRZ Jamboree photo gallery.

Kids Need to Read HIKRZ Jamboree
Usery Mountain Regional Park
Mesa, Arizona
November 6, 2010


2 Responses to “Memories of the KNTR HIKRZ Jamboree, Presented by GoDaddy.com”

  1. Nacole on January 26th, 2011 10:35 pm

    The faerie dance was hysterical. I loved working with you guys at this event and I am excited to be working with you for many many many many more events to come!

  2. Denise Gary on January 27th, 2011 4:23 pm

    You know how much we appreciate you, Nac! Thank you for everything you do for us. 🙂

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