Running with purpose; Utah Foster Care gives kids a leg up

ST. GEORGE — The energy at the Man O’ War Trailhead in the Bloomington area of St. George was high for runners participating in the Lake to Lake Relay Saturday. The trailhead was the site of the relay handoff, with colorful and sometimes crazy matching outfits standing out against the overcast morning as teams of runners made their way from Gunlock Reservoir to Sand Hollow Reservoir. But one group stood out for a different reason.

Runners on Team Utah Foster Care wait for their teammate to arrive at the exchange point during the Lake to Lake Relay, St. George, Utah, March 5, 2016 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News
Runners on Team Utah Foster Care wait for their teammate to arrive at the exchange point during the Lake to Lake Relay, St. George, Utah, March 5, 2016 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

The Utah Foster Care Foundation a Utah nonprofit that finds, educates and supports families to care for children in foster care fielded two teams of runners during this year’s relay, two teams who were running with a purpose: to raise awareness for children currently waiting for a safe and loving home.

This is the second year the Utah Foster Care Foundation has participated in the relay and this year they dedicated the race to children on the Adoption Exchange who are waiting for an adoptive home, said Ben Ashcraft, southwest region area representative for the foundation.

“There are currently about 20 children on the Adoption Exchange needing a permanent home,” Ashcraft said. “Each team runs 10 legs, so we will be able to each run for a child.”

Team members wore matching shirts that read, “Share your home. Share your heart. Foster a child,” and pinned to the front of the shirt were the names of the children needing a home.

A runner for Team Utah Foster Care makes her way to the exchange point during the Lake to Lake Relay, St. George, Utah, March 5, 2016 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News
A runner for Team Utah Foster Care makes her way to the exchange point during the Lake to Lake Relay, St. George, Utah, March 5, 2016 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

For runners on the team, many of whom were foster or adoptive parents or children, running for the foundation gave them a sense of purpose and was seen as a way to give back to the organization that played a big part in their lives.

“I was a foster child myself,” runner Brittany Kingsley said. “I am running knowing that these kids out here need homes … it is good to know that we will be helping out the community. They helped me out three years ago and now it’s my turn.”

Joseph Farnsworth, who was once on the Adoption Exchange but was later adopted by a family, agreed with Kingsley and was likewise running to help spread the word for other children to find success as he has.

“It has been really great,” Farnsworth said, adding that his adoption was rough at first until he adjusted to being in a loving family.

“It feels pretty good,” he said.

According to the Utah Foster Care Foundation website, there are approximately 2,700 Utah children in foster care. That is 2,700 children in need of stable and loving homes where they can be nurtured and helped on the path to becoming healthy adults.

Ashcraft said:

It means a lot to us. We don’t really think very often about the fact that we have a home, that we have a bed to sleep in, that we know a family that we can go home to everyday. These kids don’t have that. So thinking about being able to run for them and helping them to be able to have that opportunity to have this home … it is just so neat to be able to learn about these kids, they’re great kids, they need great families.

Utah’s Heart Gallery

At the Rosenbruch Wildlife Museum located in the Dixie Center, 1835 S. Convention Center Drive, St. George, the staircase is lined with photographs of the children on the Adoption Exchange, creating a gallery of hopeful youth who are waiting for an adoptive family.

A poster informing runners and spectators about the Heart Gallery is on display at the runner exchange during the Lake to Lake relay, St. George, Utah, March 5, 2016 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News
A poster informing runners and spectators about the Heart Gallery is on display at the runner exchange during the Lake to Lake relay, St. George, Utah, March 5, 2016 | Photo by Hollie Reina, St. George News

Presented by the Adoption Exchange, the Utah Heart Gallery is a traveling exhibit created to help find families for the forgotten children within our communities, Utah’s Heart Gallery website said.

The professional photographs showcase the children’s personalities, putting a face to the names Team Utah Foster Care dedicated their legs to and creating powerful images of those who need a loving home.

For information about how to become a foster or adoptive parent visit the Utah Foster Care Foundation website.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

Email: hreina@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

 

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