Nov 27, 2013
By Jill Wallenhorst
Are you looking for a fun and healthy way to help area children this holiday season?
Ohio University's Student Social Work Association (SSWA) is partnering with the Athens County Court Appointed Special Advocates/Guardian Ad Litem (CASA/GAL) Program to organize Athens' first Reindeer Run for Kids.
Scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 7, at the West State Street Park, this 5K "jolly fun run/walk" will include kids' activities, reindeer games, a costume contest with prizes, hot chocolate and a visit from the big man in red.
Proceeds from the event will support the efforts of the Athens County CASA/GAL Program, a juvenile court-based, nonprofit organization whose community volunteers provide a voice for children affected by abuse and neglect.
"The event has grown to be more than just another fundraising event, but a campaign to raise awareness about our program and the local issue of child abuse and neglect," said Jenny Stotts, executive director of the Athens County CASA/GAL Program. "The Reindeer Run for Kids is an opportunity to help our community's most vulnerable children and, at the same time, do something for your own mind and body health."
According to Stotts, at the heart of CASA/GAL's efforts are the program's volunteers who are trained in both social services and the court system and who are paired with local children whose families are in crisis. Financial support through fundraising helps cover the cost of training the volunteers as well as with expense reimbursement.
Ohio University student Hunter Joseph is an intern with the local CASA/GAL program and president of SSWA, an OHIO student organization dedicated to promoting community service on the Athens Campus and in the region. SSWA is one of the sponsors of the Reindeer Run for Kids, and Joseph has been helping to raise awareness of the event.
"This event is so well planned and thought out, I think people will be amazed that only a few people have planned it," said Joseph. "The CASA/GAL program is amazing but, unfortunately, has little recognition, and I hope this race will raise awareness. This could help us gain more volunteers, as well as teach others the importance of addressing and fighting child abuse."
The Reindeer Run for Kids is open to everyone, and participants are encouraged to wear their wackiest holiday costumes (prizes will be awarded). The event begins at 9 a.m. with check-in starting at 8 a.m.
Registration is $30 per person or $25 per person for those in teams of four. For more information or to register for the event, visit www.athenscasa.org.
"I hope that (this event) will start a conversation," said Stotts. "Movement doesn't just happen. It starts with a conversation. I really hope that this event will spread awareness about what we do and the importance of investing in our children."