King Pins Challenge scores win against teen substance abuse


By Lee Stephens….

Sgt. Henry Guzman, Coalition Director Margaret Sotham, Det. Joe Mendez, Det. Edgardo Bartra, Officer Marcus Kinlaw and Det. Lisa King.

For the third year in a row, The King Pins Challenge has racked up a victory in the fight to keep kids safe, healthy and drug-free.

On Sunday, March 20, more than 70 elected officials, civic and business leaders battled for The King Pins Challenge trophy at Splitsville Luxury Lanes.

The King Pins Challenge III brought the community leadership together in a fun-filled evening for family, friends and colleagues in support of the South Miami Drug- Free Coalition, a project of Informed Families/The Florida Family Partnership. For three hours, on all thirteen lanes, nearly 80 bowlers of varying skill levels helped raise more than $20,000 to support the coalition’s work in South Miami. Each year, The King Pins Challenge is copresented by Splitsville – America’s Bowling Alley and SoMiMAG, a local lifestyle and entertainment publication.

Mayor Philip Stoddard and former mayor Rev. Anna Price served as honorary co-chairs for the event. Joining them on the lanes were Miami-Dade County Commissioner Carlos A. Gimenez, former mayor and Chamber South President Mary Scott Russell, South Miami Hospital Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer Kathy Sparger and City Manager Dr. Hector Mirabile.

The thirteen teams included Commissioner Gimenez’s family, Chamber South; the Red Sunset Merchants Association; South Miami Hospital; First National Bank of South Miami; South Miami Police Department; South Miami Police Explorers Post #256; South Miami Senior High School and other SoMi business and community leaders. The coalition sponsored a kids lane, where the youngest bowlers tried their hand at the sport.

Entertainment this year included performances by local singer/songwriter Ariel Rose, a 17-year-old vocal magnet student at Dr. Michael M. Krop Senior High School, and local magicians Rick Del Vecchio and Ron Olmsted. Both are members of the International Brotherhood of Magicians – Ring 45/Miami and of the South Miami/Coral Gables Elks Lodge 1676. Players and spectators also shopped at a silent auction that included sports memorabilia from All Star Auction, jewelry from Van Galz Jewelry, Romero Britto artwork from Frames USA, and products and services from several local merchants.

In her welcoming remarks for the guests assembled for The Challenge, South Miami Drug-Free Coalition Director Margaret Sotham noted that the real challenge happens every day as coalition members and community partners work to reduce alcohol and drug use, especially among youth.

At the Awards Ceremony following the tournament, the South Miami Police Explorers team was awarded the “King Pins” trophy for contributing the most pin pledges. Team members were: Kassandra Morales, Dailin Roman, Yessica Martin, Rachel Saldivar, Josue Zambrana and Jerome Blain. Not to be outdone, their mentors on the Police Department team took the “High Roller” honor for the best bowling score. Team members were: Major Rene Landa, Lt. Larry Corbin, Sgt. Henry Guzman, Det. Edgardo Bartra, Det. Joe Mendez and Officer Marcus Kinlaw.

South Miami Drug-Free Coalition Director Margaret Sotham also presented the Police Explorers with a check for $2,000. The money represents contributions raised by the team and a dollar-for-dollar match from the coalition. The Explorers use funds raised throughout the year to purchase uniforms, which cost more than $500 per member, and to participate in competitions with other posts around the state.

Sponsors recognized at the event were: Johnny Rockets, South Miami Hospital Addiction Treatment Center, Red Sunset Merchants Association, John Edward Smith Communications and media sponsor Community Newspapers/South Miami News. Other lane and contributing sponsors were Miami Dade County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez, First National Bank of South Miami, the Police Benevolent Association, South Miami Rotary Club International, The Shops at Sunset Place, Cool de Sac Play Café, LA Sweets and LAZ Parking.

For information on the work of the South Miami Drug-Free Coalition, contact 305- 856-4037.


Formed in 2003, the South Miami Drug-Free Coalition is sponsored by Informed Families. The coalition brings together parents and youth with representatives from business, education, government, law enforcement, health care, faith communities, and civic and social organizations to reduce youth substance use.

Affiliated with the National Family Partnership, Informed Families/The Florida Family Partnership is the State of Florida’s major universal provider of positive parenting skills, serving school-age children and their families, while building parent networks throughout Florida to help kids grow up safe, healthy and drug-free. Informed Families believes that parents need skills and support during a child’s teenage years, and that parents are the change agents who create healthy social norms in the communities. For more information, visit online at, or call 305-856-4886.

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