On Saturday, Oct. 13, 2012, more than 150 runners from Maryland CASA Association and local Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) programs stepped forward to run in the Under Armour Baltimore Running Festival and raised $40,000 to continue its advocacy services for abused and neglected children.
"Team CASA" comprised 152 CASA volunteers, staff and board members and other supporters who ran to raise awareness and funds to support CASA's work. Mars Supermarkets served as platinum sponsor.
This year's event, the organization's fourth as a charity team in the festival, was its most successful. "We raised close to $10,000 more than last year exceeded our fundraising goal by nearly $5,000.00," said Ed Kilcullen, Maryland CASA Association's state director, who ran in the 5k for the fourth year in a row.
"Team CASA's goals were twofold – to raise public awareness and to raise funds to support Maryland CASA's efforts to recruit more volunteers to serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates," added Kilcullen.
Wearing "Team CASA" race shirts, this year's team included several children and the following participants:
- A family of five (including a staff member from CASA of Frederick County) from Myersville who ran in the 5k
- A current CASA volunteer from Mt. Airy who "hiked" the entire half-marathon route, and
- A CASA volunteer from Columbia and her 10-year-old son who ran in the 5k and whose husband ran in the half-marathon.
Kilcullen believes that exposure at the Baltimore Running Festival helps to promote awareness of CASA, which is often confused with other organizations that use the same acronym. "CASA is still a well-kept secret and we need to continually promote awareness to recruit additional volunteers until every child in need in Maryland is placed in a safe and permanent home," he said.
Maryland CASA supports the work of 15 CASA programs throughout the state. CASA volunteers complete extensive screening and training before being appointed by the court to serve as advocates for individual children.
"Their goal is simple – to ensure every child their right to grow up in a safe, permanent home," Kilcullen said.
Despite having 1,000 volunteers serving in Maryland, 9 out of 10 of the approximately 10,000 children under the protection of the courts lack independent advocates speaking up for their best interests.
Maryland CASA Association is a private, non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization that supports the work of fifteen Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) programs serving children in Baltimore City and 18 counties throughout Maryland. For more information, log onto www.GoTeamCASA.org or www.MarylandCASA.org.