Be More Than A Hero… Be a SUPERHERO! – Join the CASA Superhero Runs in Chico and Redding

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Heroes will not be hard to find in the North State this month and next: they’ll be out in the open, running for a good cause and having fun in the process. Superheroes will be on hand as well, dressed for heroic duty, in Chico’s Bidwell Park and Redding’s Civic Auditorium.

Just look for people supporting Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), a program that matches specially trained volunteers with abused, abandoned or neglected children who are making their way through Dependency Court.

What cataclysmic event is responsible for this gathering of caped crusaders? What clarion call has brought brave men and women (and the children who love them) from throughout the North State? It’s the second annual CASA Superhero Run!

CASA volunteers and supporters will don their finest superhero costumes and take part in 5K and 10K races while younger attendees get their own capes and take part in the 1K Little Heroes Dash.

 “There’s a costume component to this and it’s fun to see the creativity,” says Jake Mangas, development director for Northern Valley Catholic Social Service, the nonprofit umbrella organization that administers the CASA program in Butte, Shasta, Glenn and Tehama counties. “We encourage people to dress up, but it’s not a requirement. People come up with unique takes on what a superhero is.” 

However the heroes are dressed, there are about 1,500 at-risk kids who can benefit from the money generated by run participants. “Our slogan is ‘All children need a hero, but abused and neglected children need a superhero,’” Mangas says.

“It’s amazing to see the outpouring of support,” Mangas adds. “Last year we had about 1,000 attend and received a lot of publicity with each event. We netted about $30,000, which is great for a first-year event, especially a fun run.” 

Money raised during the CASA Superhero Run stays in the North State to train, assign and support CASA volunteers, says Pam Hubbard, program coordinator for CASA of Shasta and Tehama Counties.

Once they pass an extensive background investigation and complete a structured 30-hour training program, CASA volunteers are sworn in as officers of the court and assigned to serve as an advocate for a child or sibling group in the court system. 

The typical CASA kid has been removed from a home due to abuse, abandonment or neglect and can greatly benefit from a stable, committed adult in his or her life. Often, the one-on-one relationship between a CASA volunteer and dependent child is the most positive relationship a kid has.

“The whole goal of CASA is to get abused and neglected children into safe homes and to provide one consistent, positive adult which the child has lacked,” Mangas says.

 “The polar star in all this is the child,” Hubbard says. “These are some of the most at-risk children in our community who are not faring well in group care. We’re really reaching for this one-on-one relationship. Children can really, really benefit from knowing somebody is out there following them from placement to placement throughout the court process.”

While the often overburdened social worker is required to divide attention between as many as 100 children in a caseload, the CASA volunteer can give a child his or her full attention – and children can appreciate the difference.

Mangas cites a comment by Andreas Fuhrmann, a CASA volunteer, who notes: “My 11-year-old CASA boy figured me out well before I figured him out. I’m the only adult not paid to give him attention. My role is to show up when I say I will and to let him know he’s worthy.”

You don’t have to wear a cape and run 10 kilometers to be a hero, Mangas says. You simply need to step in and volunteer your time. “People understand these kids are in a situation through no fault of their own. It’s not too late to help these kids. It’s ordinary people doing something extraordinary for children. It takes a few very simple things: spending time, and being positive and consistent.”  

The CASA Superhero Run in Chico takes place on September 20 in Lower Bidwell Park; the Redding run is being held on November 8 at the Redding Civic Auditorium. For more information, including registration instructions, visit run4casa.com or call (530) 345-1600. 

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Jon Lewis
About Jon Lewis

Jon Lewis is a Redding-based writer who has been writing about people, places, programs and events in the North State for 30 years.

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