California Governor Jerry Brown and first lady Anne Gust Brown will get an assist from a local elementary school student when they light up the Capitol Christmas Tree on Thursday.
Second-grader Sofia Garcia, who attends El Cerrito Elementary in the La Habra City School District, has been tapped to help illuminate the state’s 65-foot-tall white fir on the West Steps of the State Capitol.
Sofia, who was born prematurely at 29 weeks and diagnosed with autism by age 2, will represent more than 300,000 individuals who receive services and supports from state developmental centers and nonprofit regional centers, according to this news release. She was selected by Harbor Regional Center, which has been assisting her and her family from an early age.
“Regional has actually helped us very, very much,” her mother, Elia Arizpe, recently told KTLA 5 News. “We thought she was not going to be able to talk. We started with sign language.”
Now 7, Sofia is thriving at El Cerrito, where she’s transitioned from a special education classroom to a general ed class, according to the KTLA profile.
This year’s Capitol Christmas Tree comes from the Latour Demonstration State Forest, located near Redding in Shasta County, and has been decorated with more than 900 hand-crafted ornaments made by children and adults with developmental disabilities. At about 5 p.m. on Thursday, it will be lit by approximately 10,000 ultra-low wattage LED lights.