KidsPeace assists thousands of children by finding them safe, loving homes with caring foster parents in 11 states and the District of Columbia. The Baltimore foster care office sponsored a 5K race and one mile walk to raise funds the KEYS Program(KidsPeace empowering Youth to Succeed), which teaches foster teens life skills that they will need to use when they age out of the system and live independently in the community. With the odds stacked high against them, teens who age out of the foster care system must suddenly find jobs, secure a place to live, stick to a budget, link up with transportation and make their way in the world, often with little or no preparation. KidsPeace is committed to helping these teens prepare for adult life and move smoothly to independent living.
The 5K fundraiser was the first of its kind for the Baltimore foster care office, and the participation and enthusiasm of sponsors, volunteers and runners was wonderful. From employees of the Baltimore, DC, and Virginia KidsPeace foster care offices to staff from as far away as Pennsylvania, volunteers to the Board of Associates that supports the efforts of the office, to local businesses and sponsors, everyone worked extremely hard to make the event profitable and lots of fun for all who attended. The positive media coverage has attracted the interest of more individuals and businesses that would like to become involved in future fundraisers.
The most exciting outcome is the nearly $25,000 in cash donations and in-kind sponsorships from the businesses in O'Donnell Square in Baltimore where the finish line was set up. Many people in the running community commented that this was an impressive amount for a 5K to raise. Business owners arrived at the finish lines with their families to provide crafts for the children, food, beverages and even electricity for the speaker system from one enthusiastic restaurant. All of the merchants and volunteers truly embraced the race/walk and the foster children KidsPeace serves. Many of the sponsors also volunteered to work with our teens to help them with interview skills and internships in the future.
Baltimore City DSS was very supportive and an active partner. Ray Syndor from the Philadelphia Eagles was part of the event and was so impressed with KidsPeace that he is working on continuing a partnership in the form of a camp and other programs for our kids. One of the event's very generous sponsors (a local hotel) wants to partner with KidsPeace for next year to help plan the event. The Baltimore Foster Care Office Board of Associates and their families were very generous with their time and their donations, and Chairperson Lee Anderson provided immeasurable professionalism for the post race program. Each board member worked side by side with staff to make this event such a success, and their dedication to KidsPeace is very inspiring. Board members, interns, staff and their family members were joined by folks from Johns Hopkins, Baltimore students and local community members.
The foster families who attended and volunteered were amazed at the magnitude of the race and the community involvement on their behalf. One of the foster children summed it up by saying "Wow, This is all for us!" A big thank you to everyone who helped out and an invitation to bring friends and family to make next years race an even bigger hit.