12/30/2011 10:33AM ● Published by Style
Photo by Dante Fontana
No one will ever forget the day that Principal Sam LaCara, doing a job he loved in his office at Louisiana Schnell School, was senselessly gunned down.
Recently retired fire captain Ken Parker parlayed the news that stunned the close-knit community of Placerville into an act of quiet, generous heroism that spurred something of a movement around these parts. “I thought about Sam’s three daughters and wanted to help them, knowing that the community probably felt the same way,” recalls Ken, who, to raise money for the girls’ college funds, hatched a plan to cycle the Pacific Coast Bicycle Route, from Vancouver, B.C., to Imperial Beach, CA.
Calling the ride “The LaCara Challenge-Do the Right Thing” (Mr. LaCara’s motto), Parker set about training and fundraising. Finally, with the blessing of Mr. LaCara’s wife, Lisa, to ride in her late husband’s honor, Parker put pedal to the metal, covering 2,153 miles in 32 days with “only one day off and not a scratch.” Detouring from his route once to visit students at three different Placerville schools – Schnell, Sierra and Edwin Markham – he says: “One person really can make a difference. Daily support and encouragement made this an adventure that changed my life.” Parker is now returning the favor as a paraeducator at Schnell School, where he is inspiring kindergartners to “do the right thing” – just as Sam LaCara would have surely taught them.
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