Helix Charter HS Will Get Revamped Weight Room with $75K Chargers Grant

Helix was one of nine schools selected for grants this year, totaling $250,000 from the San Diego Chargers.

Physical education students and athletic teams at Helix Charter High School will benefit from a ravamped weight room and new fitness equipment, after the school was awarded a $75,000 grant from the San Diego Chargers on Wednesday.

Chargers Champions, a program launched in 2000 for the purpose of helping improve physical fitness of students in San Diego-area schools, donated $250,000 this year to nine different schools.

Helix, along with Mission Bay High School, were awarded the highest-dollar grants, at $75,000 apiece.

“On behalf of the entire Helix Charter High School community, as well as the rest of San Diego educators, I want to thank the Chargers and the Spanos Family for continuing to support our schools,” said executive director Mike Lewis.

Lewis noted that the school’s initial grant request was around $40,000 (it was actually $58,000, as confirmed later), and that it was the first time he’s heard an organization saying “you didn’t ask for enough money. We want to give you the full $75,000.”

The new equipment and improved weight room will serve 2,500 Helix students who take classes in the physical education department. PE Department Chair Donnie Van Hook said that the school hopes to increase the number of weight training classes offered each year from four to about seven or eight.

Van Hook said the school used the grant money to order Spin bikes, medicine balls, kettle bells, and other exercise equipment, in addition to replacing some free weights.

“We knew exactly how we wanted to redesign the weight room, so we ordered everything and hope to have everything installed by Christmas,” said Van Hook. “We want to be up and ready by Term 2, which is Jan 9.”

The weight room was in need of a facelift, according to students, both past and current.

Rocky Fuga, a senior football player, said that the school needed more free weights and bards.

“We need more bars because some of the bars are broken, and it’s hard to fit the weights on them,” he said.

“I’m looking around and I’m seeing some of the weights that I used in the 80s (laughs), so Helix definitely needed to revamp their weight room,” said Leon White, a Helix grad from the Class of 1981. White spent nine years in the NFL as a linebacker for the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams.  In 1984, he was part of the undefeated Brigham Young University team that won the National Championship. White was named Defensive MVP of the Holiday Bowl that same year.

“This is something that is not only going to help the students here, but La Mesa and the connecting communities as well, so I’m so excited to be a part of this great addition,” White said.

Since it’s inception in 2000, the Chargers Champion program has donated more than $4.5 million to San Diego schools.

“Schools throughout California need our support,” said A.G. Spanos, the team’s  executive vice president and CDO. “We are happy that we can help provide students with necessary means to living a healthy lifestyle through physical fitness."

Van Hook added that the school was appreciative and had a personal message of his own.

“It just goes to show you the Chargers are really invested in the community, and they should not leave town,” he said. “They are better suited for San Diego.”

Helix’s most famous alum, Bill Walton, was expected to attend the event. However, he left town to attend the funeral of Sasha McHale, the daughter of his longtime friend and former teammate Kevin McHale, now coach of the Houston Rockets. Sasha McHale died earlier this week, succumbing to lupus.

Below is the complete list of Chargers Champions donations:

Helix Charter High School $75,000 New weight room Mission Bay High School $75,000 New weight room Diegueno Middle School $22,000 Outdoor fitness center Washington Middle School $22,000 Aquatic equipment Christa McAuliffe Elementary School $17,000 Running track Del Rio Elementary School $15,000 Fitness equipment Cajon Park Elementary School $13,000 Sports equipment / running track Ross Elementary School $4,000 Fitness equipment Valley Center High School $3,000 Body Composition Analyzers




Things I Learned December 01, 2012 at 12:28 AM
Barbara December 01, 2012 at 04:28 AM
I would love to know if this equipment will be made more available to ALL students...(I.e. the female athletes at the school). Or is this a gift to the Football program primarily?
Jennifer Osborn December 03, 2012 at 05:49 PM
Hi Barbara - This grant will benefit the entire Physical Education Department (Donnie Van Hook is the PE Dept chairperson, not the football coach - Athletics is separate from PE). The PE teachers have worked to develop a more comprehensive PE program to incorporate a classroom component, nutrition, and fitness. One of the goals is to make sure ALL the students know how to become/stay healthy through the use of weights and other fitness items that will be in the facility. This gift will help many, many students for years to come.
Laura December 05, 2012 at 05:15 PM
As a woman and former weight training student at Helix, I can tell you that yes it's an equal opportunity weight room. I took it as my PE elective my junior (or senior?) year. Congrats Helix! ~Laura Stallings, Class of 92


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