That’s the only word I can think of to describe this superhero-packed day.
CASA of CGS worked together for months on end putting together an event that would raise awareness about child abuse, neglect, permanent homes for foster children and build an understanding about the situation the children in our counties face. Out of our three counties, Cumberland came in last place for child welfare. That’s inexcusable.
Every child needs a hero, but abused and neglected children need superheroes!
It takes someone special to put the needs of someone else first. We are all capable of this. This was never more evident than on Saturday morning. Despite the temperature climbing by the minute, hundreds gathered in support of our cause – in support of our children.
Colorful doesn’t even begin to describe the scene.
Superheroes came out of the woodwork. Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, Wonderwoman, etc. – even superheroes of their own creation. We didn’t mind. Every one of the superheroes was welcomed, appreciated and needed.
The CASA staff, although worn from planning, were moving with energy only seen from superheroes! Decorations, positions, and plans in place – our big day took off.
As the crowd of costumed superhero runners and walkers gathered, the loud roar from one of the Harley’s of BACA NJ sent the message loud and clear:
“We’re fighting for you. We are your superheroes!”
At the start line, supporters waited with either side donned in bright balloons protected by a life-sized Batman and Spider-Man and the super sharp CASA soap box derby cars. The atmosphere was unlike any other 5K. This run had substance. Each person was there to give a voice to a child and despite the laughter and pleasure of the day, there was an undeniable force of dedication and cause.
Former Philadelphia Eagle, Ike Reese, began the race. Talk about a rush! Here’s one of our community superheroes – not to mention a pro football player – sending our superheroes off for the 5K fight!
When the first runner came upon the finish line, the excitement came in a close second to pride. I can’t explain the anticipation – it wasn’t about time, it wasn’t about health or stamina – it was about being a voice. Picture it. Bright blues, reds, greens, whites, yellows, running through a town – would you look? Probably more than once. There’s the voice. We were running for a cause.
As each runner crossed, the applause and cheers rang out along with the most important, “Thank you!”
We couldn’t have done this without you.
After the last participant crossed the finish line, Family Fun Day officially began. A seemingly endless field of the greenest grass, set the stage for a morning full of music, games, food, crafts, friends and family.
Author Monica Holmes was on hand with her inspirational book, “It’s Not Your Fault,” with the Family Strengthening Network as her neighbor on the field. We were very fortunate to have Home Depot spending time with our families with the activities and games they brought to the event. I must say, my sons especially enjoyed the help from our Home Depot friends (the water bottles were an added bonus!)
The craft tables, parachute, tug-o-war, dance contests, and relay races doesn’t even begin to describe all of the fun things to do!
Underneath one of our tents, something shiny had to catch your eye. The Harley Davidson motorcycle that provided the roar at the beginning of the race cooled down in all its glory for the kids and their families to see.
BACA of NJ (Bikers Against Child Abuse) joined us on this steamy morning because this is their fight, too. Tough, tattooed, and ready to take charge of any dangerous situation, this group of individuals is essentially everything an abused or neglected child needs – someone to care for them, fight for them, love them. BACA will stop at nothing to protect them.
Despite their stereotyped appearance, the families had no qualms about approaching the bikers with questions, stories and of course, sample their amazing face painting!
The sun beating down did little to deter the spirit of our superheroes. Sitting at the edge of the field and watching all of the children and their families come together, each taking part in a different activity, candidly laughing, was amazing. We want that for every child – every family.
Next year? Same thing. But bigger! We want more superheroes! You’re out there – don’t hide. Our children desperately need you!
Also, thank you to Fulton Bank for the water table for our participants and for supporting CASA of CGS and the Pitman and Glassboro Police departments for guiding our runners and keeping us safe.
A big thank you to anyone I may have failed to mention, every single body contributing to this event is appreciated. We could not have done this without you.
You can find the gallery of photos from the event here: CASA of CGS Superhero 5K and Family Fun Day!
Thoughts, comments, questions? Email me! Jennkaysen@gmail.com