Kylie becomes Bethany’s ‘Champion’

By J1 Reporter Maria Determan

“Do you have a husband?” This is not the typical question to ask a 16-year-old Marian girl, but Bethany Tunink has the guts. Similar questions arise on a daily basis in junior Kylie Champion’s black 2006 Pontiac.

Conversations are easygoing and comical in the short, five minute drives from Saint James to Marian.

Each day, Champion rushes out of school and hops in her car, eager to pick up the most hilarious 5 year old in Pre-K. An excited, bubbly Bethany also anticipates the daily drive to Marian with one of her new favorite people.

Marian Chemistry teacher Mrs. Stacy Tunink said, “Bethany refers to her as ‘Kylie Champion’ at all times and tells me all about ‘Kylie Champion’ picking her up.” Champion enjoys the ride just as much as Bethany, “She is so much fun.”      

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Bethany Tuning, 5, gets a lift from junior Kylie Champion on their way into Marian. Photo by J1 Photographer Anna Cook.

Champion got the gig earlier this year when Tunink was in need of a driver, “She had a girl who was previously doing it, but then she wasn’t able to do it anymore. I just stopped and was like ‘Mrs. Tunink, I will do it!’” Champion had attended Saint James for grade school and was already familiar with the environment.

It’s common to see Champion hustling to the parking lot after the bell each day. As all Marian girls all know, the traffic gets chaotic right away. “If I blast out of here then I beat all the traffic and get there faster!”

Tunink needs this daily assistance due to the preschool program Bethany is enrolled in. “They get done at 3, and have to be picked up between 3 and 3:30.” Jonas, her 3-year-old son, will be enrolled in a different program in the future, and will not need a ride to Marian like Bethany.

Champion has developed an adorable friendship with Bethany and they both enjoy the daily car ritual. “I don’t really play the radio, we just talk. She tells me about her day, and what letters she learned or if she painted or glued that day. We talk about colors a lot…and food.”

A true reflection of the bond they have formed is evident. When Bethany was asked what her “dream ride to Marian would be,” she replied with little hesitation, “Kylie’s car.”

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