In the months leading up to this weekend's North Fair Oaks Festival in Redwood City, 19-year-old Viviana Tacussis raised more than $10,000 for the San Mateo County Sheriff's youth programs.
The 2,000 tickets Tascussis sold at $5 a piece earned her the title of this year's North Fair Oaks Festival Queen as well as a $6,000 college scholarship.
From March through the first week of August, Tascussis sold tickets across the Peninsula neighborhoods and at community events.
She said she was most effective in selling large bunches of tickets to sponsors as well as by setting up a ticket booth in front of in San Carlos.
Festival Director Catherine Matsuyo Tompkison-Graham said she admired the commitment of Tascussis.
"She was so motivated," said Tompkison-Graham. "It's always refreshing to see young people so disciplined and focused."
Tascussis, a native of Chile who has lived in Belmont for the past decade, said she will begin attending San Jose State University next week. She graduated from Carlmont High School in Belmont.
She intends to pursue a degree in aerospace engineering and said she would like to work some day for Lockheed Martin or the Space Exploration Technology Corp.
Tascussis said she hopes to work on technology that will help produce better, more efficient spaceships. She said her ambitious career goal stems from her passion for science and math.
"I've always been good at math and physics and have had a curiosity about outer space," said Tascussis.
She will move to San Jose to begin pursuing her dreams Monday, the day after the North Fair Oaks Festival.
The festival will take place Sunday on Middlefield Road, between 1st and 5th Avenue. It will start at 11 a.m. and will continue until 6 p.m.
The event begins with a parade, showcasing Tascussis as well as the four others who competed with her to win the title of queen. Last year's reigning champion will be in attendance as well.
Tompkison-Graham encouraged those planning to take in the festival to get to the event early so they will have a good view of the parade.
More than 100 local vendors offering food, drinks and other goods will be part of the festival. But to maintain the family-oriented nature of the festival, there will be no alcohol allowed, said Tompkison-Graham.
For those who purchased raffle tickets, prizes include a digital camera, iPod Touches, flat screen TVs, laptop computers, an XBox video game system, and $1,000 gift certificates to Chavez Supermarkets and Deseo Tequila Lounge.
Those still interested in purchasing raffle tickets may do so at the Chavez Supermarkets in Redwood City and Menlo Park or online at Qoobole.com.
The proceeds from the festival will benefit the sheriff's youth programs such as D.A.R.E., the Sheriff's Explorer Program, School Resources Program, the Sheriff's Activity League and the S.T.A.R. Camp.
Though it's too early to tell how much the festival will raise this year, Tomkison-Graham said she is certain the amount will be more than ever before. The festival has generated more than $200,000 over 10 years for the sheriff's youth programs.
Tomkison-Graham credits the community and San Mateo County Sheriff Greg Munks' commitment to the North Fair Oaks Festival for the event's success.
"I work for a man who has a vision, and I'm really proud of what he wants to do here," said Tomkison-Graham.
She said community residents have repeatedly expressed to her their appreciation for the high participation by the Sheriff's Office in the event and the number of officers at the festival.
Although most of those involved feel the festival is a positive event in the community, Tascussis said she believes the competition to become queen is especially important for young women.
"I recommend all girls in the community get involved. It's very beneficial to your community and you can learn a lot," she said.
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