On September 10, 2022 Fostering the Family hosted an interactive 5k in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Within the race, we included some elements that offer an insight into the life of a child traveling through the child welfare system.
Susie Boyle, Director of Outreach and Partnerships, shares her perspective on the day’s events:
“I looked down at my feet after removing my drenched sneakers and socks this past Saturday, and they were so wet they were actually water-logged. The sweatshirt that my son, Shayne won me at the Therapy Resource Group fun spin wheel had soaked up so much water in it that it was hanging down to my knees. So many things were flashing through my brain about our Fight for Families 5K race, but the words on the left arm of the sweatshirt really resonate, “You Matter”.
Why was there the most amazing group of people under tents, volunteering and running a race on perhaps the wettest day Ebenezer Park has seen all summer?
The foster, adoptive and kinship kids of our state matter! Every single one of them. Our 5K this year was designed to bring the community together and educate as many people as possible on the needs of these vulnerable children. We partnered with over 25 churches, businesses, nonprofits and even schools.
Steven Stone was on stage sharing his brilliance on the mic with the community as the rain poured down and the CEO of Fostering the Family danced through the field to the music of “Dancing Queen”.
We had four interactive stations after getting your race gear from the Fostering the Family team and some awesome volunteers from the Beta Club at Fort Mill High School.
The Hug Station, beautifully designed by Deanna Bridges, a friend and Women’s Life Group leader from Good Shepherd Church, shared the message of the significance of attachment for these vulnerable children and how that can be affected by moving from house to house in foster care.
The Discomfort Food Station was sponsored by the Lake Wylie Man Real Estate Team, who educated the visitors about how comfort food is so important to our well -being and how so many children end up with eating disorders when left in foster care for significant periods of time.
Onto the next station which was full of the awesome students from the Richard W. Riley College of Education at Winthrop University. They created a sixty- question giant Jenga Game to leave you feeling smart or less than with the idea that so many children in foster care are behind in their learning. These children have some of the lowest test scores, graduate from high school only 56% of the time and only 3% graduate college. They lose 4-6 months of learning every time we move them to a new foster home.
Our last station sponsored in love by Forest Hills Church was filled with teddy bears with the names of all the children up for adoption in South Carolina. We called it the Carry Station as sometimes one belonging is all you get to carry when you get pulled out of your home. We asked the runners to carry these tiny bears on their route, praying for all these children have been through and praying that they would find their forever family.
The runners then started on the beautiful bridge that runs over the lake and set out on Lake Wylie Drive to finish their soaking wet adventure in our Hope Station in the middle of the field. The Hope station signifies Fostering the Families firm belief that there are more than enough resources, talents, and partnerships in our county and state to make sure all children have the safety and love of a family. Working together we will create change!
In the field you would find some of our awesome partners in the community including Collective Chiropractic, Therapy Resource Group, Vibrant Family Chiropractic, the Guardian Ad Litem Program, Epworth Foster Care, Fort Mill Church of Christ speaking out for FASD and the Palmetto’s Women’s Center. FRHAM Safety Products Catherine Russell braved the rain and shared space with Defend the Fatherless and her daughter Christi Halpin, who has worked tirelessly in the past few months to bring the Isaiah 117 House to York County.
The Palmetto Women’s Center had their van parked next to the field to demonstrate how ultrasounds can be done for the vulnerable women in our community. They manned a water station and poured love into our runners that day.
Collins Family and Elder Law Group was one of the main sponsors and brought a great field of runners of all ages to join the fun.
Founded in Truth Church manned our second water station and provided delicious and homemade desserts for our picnic. They have been one of Fostering the Families main partners since inception and lead the way in providing Care Communities locally.
Elevation Church brought volunteers, runners, a snack station, and an awesome after race picnic for the community to help showcase our adoptions. They have stepped in for years to help the vulnerable child crisis in York County with their support of DSS, hosting date nights for foster families and just partnering with so many organizations in our county that help facilitate change.
After the race, several adoptive families in the community were celebrated by giving the children brand new bikes donated by Mario Rocker, owner of Insurance Masters in Aiken. The excitement on stage was contagious! Even after three hours in the pouring rain.
Tom Audette stood dripping wet on stage, with a smile larger than life, after completing the 5K and shared some words of encouragement with the crowd and surprised Fostering the Family with a $2,000 donation. How grateful we are! Raye Felder, Tommy Pope and York Electric Cooperative also helped sponsor this event which, as you can see, took a village.
All of this was going on as volunteer photographers, Jonathan Mayhorn and Johnny McFalls Jr. were catching these moments to share for those who could not make it that day and for our viewing enjoyment later. Catawba Ridge High School News Team was interviewing participants and had just come out that day, weather and all, as they saw the importance of what was transpiring at Ebenezer.
Fostering the Family is so very grateful to their team, board and the outreach that extended across the state on September 10, 2022. We are calling for God to stand up and unite us, to take a stand for the most vulnerable. We know He showed up that day! TO GOD BE THE GLORY!”
Fostering the Family wants to see our community join together to bring about change – spreading love, hope, stability, and the chance for a brighter future to vulnerable children.