Colton High opens fields for 4th annual #Aristrong event

The charity event finds a home at Colton High School after the city denies original plans to shut down Rancho Avenue for the car show and kickball tournament.


Jasmine Jimenez

Colton resident purchases food from one of the #Aristrong event vendors at the 4th annual car show and kickball tournament on Nov. 5, 2022.

Colton, CA—On Saturday, November 5th, Colton High hosted the 4th annual #Aristrong Kickball Tournament and Car Show.

But it almost didn’t happen.

Originally scheduled to be held on Rancho Avenue, which would have required a section of the major city street to be shut down for at least 8 hours, event organizers were told by the city 10 days before the event their request was denied.

By big event standards, plans were revised at the last minute. With the support of CJUSD Superintendent Dr. Frank Miranda, Director of Facilities Owen Chang, and school board member Israel Fuentes, #Aristrong was able to relocate the event to the JV baseball and PE fields on the west side of Colton High School. Additionally, recently re-elected mayor Frank Navarro helped to secure the closure of G Street between Rancho and Grand Avenues for access by vendors, entertainment, and participants in the car show.

Event organizers were thrilled with the support from the school district and high school, which made it possible for this year’s event to be the best attended yet. “This is the biggest turn out we’ve had yet,” said #Aristrong co-founder Nikki Villalobos. “To see all the cars and people here for the same causeit’s phenomenal to see the unity of the people of Colton.” 

The major draws of the event were the car show, which featured over 100 vehicles, 37 vendors, celebrity autograph booths, a fundraising auction, and the kickball tournament. The event raised over $15,000 this year that will go towards helping families in need with a variety of urgent problems.

There were also performances by 7 different bands, including DJ Cazal laying down some West Coast Hip Hop, oldies band Midnight Cruisers from Riverside, progressive metal band Dianthus from Riverside, and a local Christian band, Breaking Three Worship. “It was a perfect layout,” said organizer Rich Corral about having the bands set up on the JV baseball diamond. “We also figured out some ways to make next year even better.”

The kickball tournament featured four teamsColton High’s football team, a team representing the local pet grooming business Animal Kingdom, the Limon family, and a team of students from both the Pepper Bough newspaper and Crimson & Gold yearbook staff. The Animal Kingdom team dominated the tournament, defeating last year’s champion football team for the Kickball Tournament title.

“We had so much fun out there,” said Jeremiah Dollins, Pepper Bough and yearbook adviser. “A lot of our team hadn’t played kickball since elementary school, so it was great seeing them out there laughing even as we got wrecked by every team we played.”

The auction was headlined by a copy of the “Up in Smoke” album from the 1978 film signed by Cheech and Chong. There were also meet and greets with DJ Cazal, former Rams kicker and Super Bowl Champion Frank Corral, Daryl from KCAL 96.7, and the Boxing club Team Savages.

Since its founding in 2019 in the aftermath of the premature death of Ari Villalobos, who passed away from brain cancer, #Aristrong has focused on charitable work for both the Colton community and people around the United States. “There has been a lot of growth,” said Nikki Villalobos, co-founder of #Aristrong with her husband Chris. “We’re nationwide now.”

In the last year, #Aristrong’s influence has been felt around the nation through the spread of “Random Act of Kindness” cards that have shared the foundation’s contact information via their website and social media. According to Nikki Villalobos, this has led to providing help to families whose loved ones have been diagnosed with cancer in all 50 states. This support includes helping pay medical bills, mortgages, or other debts.

In the next year, #Aristrong is looking to expand their reach into other communities. Villalobos indicated a chapter of the charity will start in Las Vegas, with another being considered to start in Oregon.