I lost my daughter at the starting line of the race.

Actually, let’s not romanticize it.

She ditched me for a friend.

Middle school years anyone?

As such, with no planned playlist to cheer me on, I found something else I could focus on. Other people’s kids!

Along the path lots of kids were running both ahead of me and behind me. Some of them were exhausted, stopping to walk with their heads down.

One boy in particular stopped near me, his red shirt matching his flaming face as he huffed and puffed. I patted him on the back as I jogged past and mustered some encouragement.

He caught up with me in a couple minutes. “Hey,” he said. “I’m just going slow because of my arm.”

“No worries, you OK? You need help?” I asked. He was about ten, so I figured he’d say no but I still knew I should ask.

“No,” he said, “But I fell so that’s why I’m not at my top speed.” “OK,” I said. “Well just do your best, no problem if you need to walk.” I smiled at his already male nature to show off as he sped past me. He did end up beating me, too! 🙂

I got to thinking just then. It was such a sharp contrast to another race I did a couple of years ago as a vendor. In it, my young daughter and her friend had gotten pushed down by an adult male speeding by. Not just a little push either. It required stitches.

In the man’s defense, he had called out, “Are you OK?” But she had said said no. She wasn’t OK obviously. “You’ll be fine,” he had called over his shoulder as he sped off, leaving the girls alone in the night sky crying. A moment later, a woman scolded them without inquiry, accusing them of laziness.

Luckily, I was only a few paces behind with my younger daughter who was also running so I was able to get to them quickly. As you can imagine, it was a crazy night at the medical tent and eventually, she was fine. And she got back up and completed her first 5K the next year even though she initially vowed never to run again after that awful night.

Thankfully, the atmosphere at the Bridge A Life race this weekend was so extremely different. It always is!

 As usual, everyone made way for the true superheroes, the brave kids who were out there standing up for one another and spreading the word about adoption and foster care needs in our community:)

There were even signs up and down the race course to get us thinking. One of my favorites was this Nelson Mandela quote, which said, “There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way it treats its children.”

Sadly, there are over 1,100 kids in Manatee County in foster care. Volunteers spent hours to write each of their names on the race course. Sometimes a new baby is born and sits in a social worker’s office overnight with a desperate case worker who cannot find a placement.

It may not be your dream or God’s design for you to be a foster or adoptive parent. But everyone can do something. And if you have an opportunity to help this or another ministry like it in any way, you will truly bless these children of all of ours who will be ruling the world in a few short years 🙂

This is what’s truly essential…

It’s also no coincidence that volunteerism also helps curb depression.

If you feel called to commit to supporting them in any way, the Bridge A Life (https://www.bridgealife.com/) , started by my friend AnnMarie and her husband in their living room as a church small group several years ago, is now a worldwide 501c3 ministry to connect on so many levels. Whether your gift be a financial donation to them or another favorite ministry to kids, to delivering meals to foster families, to babysitting for them during their monthly parents’ night outs, or even sponsoring the race as a business as we do annually, it’s a great and safe place to give.

You can see their ministries and learn more about them here: https://www.bridgealife.com/about.html 

And if you’re already part of this ministry directly, if you or a friend are struggling with your foster or adoptive family, we love to help with this population’s needs at our offices. Eileen at RCC is an adoption specialist and can even do in-home care. Craig has adopted two wonderful boys from this community as well.

Love Living Life Intentionally With You,

Christa and the Reflections Staff