They’re suckers for the pucker |

They’re suckers for the pucker

The race is on.

YouthZone’s 12th annual Kiss-n-Squeal fund-raiser will pit 12 local personalities in a contest to raise loads of bucks for the local nonprofit.

Every $1 raised by a candidate is counted as a vote. The team or individual with the most votes wins the grand prize, the chance to kiss a pig.

YouthZone is a private, nonprofit organization that assists young people and families from offices in Glenwood Springs, Rifle, Carbondale, Aspen, Basalt and Meeker. Its programs have helped young people make healthier decisions, such as reducing their use of drugs and alcohol.

“Recent government funding cuts of $168,000 have made a significant impact on YouthZone’s programming,” said YouthZone public relations director and fund-raising coordinator Mary Jean Carnevale. “YouthZone will remain committed to providing professional, top quality youth programming.”

So this year the Kiss-n-Squeal event is more important than ever.

Winners in the past have raised some serious cash for the nonprofit organization. In 2001, Sandy Lowell brought in $52,486. The total for all 2001 candidates was $112,885.

In 2000, winner Sue LaGiglia-Corsentino rounded up $27,974 and YouthZone got a grand total of $111,904.

This year’s candidates are a who’s who of local luminaries:

Garfield County Sheriff Tom Dalessandri said he’s ready, willing and able to pucker up for a pig.

Tonja LaFrenz is the owner of Office Services Unlimited and Payroll Principals Inc. She is joined by her daughter – six-year-old Jordan Boezeman – and mother Cecilia LaFrenz, a broker associate with Starr Western Real Estate Inc.

They call themselves the Three Little Pigs and believe any pig will consider itself lucky to kiss three blondes at the same time.

Ava Lanes and Gary Pack have teamed up for the race. Lanes is assistant superintendent of the Garfield Re-2 School District. Pack is superintendent. Both have donned their pig ears and polished their oinker noses.

Bill Sanderson is executive vice president of Alpine Bank and a member of the YouthZone board of directors. He’s teamed up with daughter Kelli Sanderson, who has been thinking about raising a pig for 4H. Kelli figures if she can kiss a pig she can raise one.

Rick Padrnos is vice president of Vectra Bank in Basalt. His secret desire, now out in the open, is to kiss a pig.

Claudia Ramirez is the retail manager of Buggy Works in Carbondale and has seen YouthZone work in her own family. She also says she possesses a pig-kissing personality that has something to do with red lipstick.

Kerry Rippy, 12, is a YouthZone volunteer. She sees the race as a chance to practice her kissing skills for the future.

Kathy Yost owns Petra Fashions and considers pig kissing an art she perfected years ago.

“The people who are on the Kiss-n-Squeal ballot aren’t really in the fund-raiser to kiss a pig. They are in this because they believe in the value of young people and the value YouthZone brings to the community in our work with young people,” Carnevale said.

“On the other hand, I have seen some of them practicing their puckers and dressing in some pretty pig-pleasing outfits,” Carnevale added.

The grand finale and pig-kissing hoopla is set for 6 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 3, in Two Rivers Park, with music from the Miltones.

So far, Bill and Kelli Sanderson are leading with 4,091 votes. Tonja LaFrenz, Cecelia La Frenz and Jordan Boezeman have gathered 4,083 votes; Kerry Rippy has 3,642 votes; Kathy Yost, 2,337; Rick Padrnos, 2,226; Tom Dalessandri, 1,681; Ava Lanes and Gary Pack, 1,337; and Claudia Ramirez, 952.

To help with the vote-getting, they’ll sell raffle tickets for $10, giving the buyer a chance to win $1,000 in cash; Avalanche, Bronco and Rockies tickets; or golf at the Roaring Fork Club.

A silent auction is now running online at http://www.youthzone. com. In addition, YouthZone T-shirts are available at YouthZone offices and from candidates, and pig clocks are available at the Glenwood office.

Candidates are also hosting special events including pajama bowling from 6 to 8 p.m. on July 12 at Superbowl in New Castle, fund-raisers for individual teams on various dates in July, a live remote broadcast by KMTS/ KGLN radio from 6 to 10 p.m. on July 17 at the Hot Springs Pool, a golf tournament July 19 at the Rifle Creek Golf Course, a dinner dance at Bistro Basalt on July 21, and much more.

Go to for all the details.

All the money raised during the campaign will go to YouthZone for its prevention and early intervention services.

“Every $1 received in the Kiss-n-Squeal event will not only go toward helping some lucky individual kiss a pig, but it will serve as a means toward helping youth become responsible, contributing members of our community,” Carnevale said.

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