A mother waited at the 5K finish line on Saturday, watching the clock tick and counting the minutes it would take her son to complete the 3.1-mile track.
Heather Pearson’s 11-year-old son Ethan made a goal to finish this year’s Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Superhero Run in first place.
“He’s been prepping for a year,” Pearson said. “My heart is racing for him.”
While Ethan did not win the race, he was one of the first several runners out of hundreds to cross the finish line.
More than 900 members of the community participated in the third annual Superhero Run Saturday at the Levitt Pavilion in Arlington to raise money and awareness for CASA’s mission.
CASA of Tarrant County recruits and trains volunteers, or CASAs, to act as independent advocates in the courtroom for children in foster care who have a history of abuse or neglect. Read more in the previous article.
Registration opened the morning’s events at 7 a.m. and was followed by a one-mile fun run at 8 a.m. and the 5K Run at 8:30 a.m.
Runners, some with dogs on leashes and some pushing strollers, circuited the 5-kilometer track that started and finished at 100 W. Abram Street.
Other activities included a “Puppy Power Pavilion,” Kids Zone with bounce houses, a costume contest and dance performances.
Michelle Tolar said she had run in multiple 5Ks hosted by volunteer organizations, but she and her two friends chose CASA’s 5K because of its relevance to their careers in education.
“We specifically picked one [5K] that is for a cause we think is important,” said Tolar.
CASA volunteer advocates are the only unpaid representatives in the courtroom and act as the “eyes and ears of the court,” said Don Binnicker, chief executive officer of CASA of Tarrant County.
Binnicker, who dressed in full costume as “Batman” at the event, said CASAs speed up the process of placing children into stable homes.
“It helps them get out of the system quicker when we advocate for them,” said Binnicker.
Last year, CASA volunteers helped serve 880 children in Tarrant County, said Binnicker. About 20 of those children were helped directly by the $30,000 raised from last year’s Superhero Run, wrote Caitlyn Ussery, volunteer coordinator for CASA.
But there are still about 200 children with a history of abuse or neglect in Tarrant County who need CASA volunteers to advocate for them, according to CASA of Tarrant County’s website.
One of those volunteers is Carol St. Onge, who took on a new case in July.
She said an event like the Superhero Run raises awareness to the fact that about 200 children still need CASA volunteers to advocate for them. That number is only going to increase, said Onge.
“We need more people to step up,” said Onge. “It’s only gonna get worse.”