Santa Cruz Good Times

Saturday
Aug 30th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Running for Children’s Futures

news2-1Local professional runner leads Wharf to Wharf team to help foster kids

Among the approximately 600 kids admitted into foster care in Santa Cruz County last year was a 7-year-old boy and his 8-year-old sister. 

Both children, however, thought they were 5.

Their parents led them to believe this so that if anyone asked the children why they were not in school, they could answer that they were only 5 years old—too young to incriminate their parents for not enrolling them.

The judge for their case recognized that these kids had especially difficult circumstances, and requested that two volunteers from Court Appointed Special Advocates of Santa Cruz (CASA) be assigned to the kids. CASA is a nonprofit that pairs foster kids in tough situations with adult volunteers who serve as mentors, making sure the child’s education and new home life is going well, and forming consistent relationships—sometimes the only consistent relationship the child has during their case, which usually last around two years.

The advocates assigned to the brother and sister pair ensured they were in safe housing and gave them emotional support. They also helped with special tutoring so they could catch up with their peers educationally.

“None of us here at CASA will forget the day they came running into the house saying, ‘We can read!’” says CASA Director of Development Linda Bixby. “There wasn’t a dry eye here.”

The first CASA was founded in Seattle in 1977, when a juvenile court judge spoke out about the lack of information available to him about the foster children whose fate he was deciding. He had the idea for adult volunteers, who would be sworn officers of the court, acting as middlemen who get to know the kids and then advocate on their behalf in court.

CASA of Santa Cruz, which recently welcomed in a new board of officers led by ocean research specialist Susan Coale, is now one of 933 programs in the national network. It was founded in 1991 after a particularly tragic case of child abuse caught the public’s attention.

“It was recognized that the foster care system is really overburdened, and unable to provide the degree of attention the kids in the system really need,” says Bixby. “The presence of one individual in [children’s] lives during this scary time of foster care really makes a profound difference in their lives.”

news2-2Brett GotcherCASA trains and assigns advocates to about 200 children a year, and there is usually a waiting list of around 30 cases. As a private nonprofit, more than half of CASA’s budget comes from community donations. They have two big fundraisers a year, one of which is participation in Wharf to Wharf.

The annual six-mile race from Santa Cruz to Capitola attracts a range of participants, from recreational runners to world-class athletes such as Watsonville native Brett Gotcher, an alternate for the 2012 U.S. Olympic track team. Gotcher, who says he has run the race too many times to count, will be running at this year’s Sunday, July 28 race as honorary captain of Team CASA, a group of more than 70 runners who will raise money for the organization through pledges. This is the second year CASA has participated in Wharf to Wharf.

“One of the reasons I moved back is so that I could be involved in the community a little bit more,” says Gotcher, an Aptos High and Stanford alumnus who recently returned to the area from Arizona. “[Team CASA] turned up and was the perfect opportunity to start that.”

Gotcher is currently training to try for a spot on the 2016 Olympic team. He called being an alternate for the 2012 team “bittersweet,” but his passion for running doesn’t seem to have wavered—he recently returned from a month of training in Flagstaff, Ariz., where the high elevation helps runners increase their lung capacity.

Bixby says she looks forward to Gotcher’s words of inspiration for Team CASA. As for Gotcher, he’s excited to help the organization, and also to race in such a familiar setting.

“This community has given me so much in all my time here, and I just remember being in high school and having so much support all the time,” he says. “It’s always a blast to run in front of a home crowd.”

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger

busy
 

Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share

 

Mercury Enters Libra

It’s the week of Burning Man, the temporary, intentional, alternative, art-filled community on the playas of Nevada. Mercury, messenger of the Sun, enters Libra this week. Libra is the equalizer, a sign of balance and right human relations. Sometimes with Libra, we can be indecisive and confused while learning how to make balanced and right choices. Sometimes to keep the peace we communicate only what others want to hear. Eventually, we learn how to speak from the heart.

 

Final Cut

Cedar Street Video to close after 10 years at downtown location

 

Banter and Spark

Engaging actors, wry script distinguish lightweight rom-com ‘What If’

 

Back to Silicon Beach

With a new wave of startups, the future of Santa Cruz tech looks more promising than ever
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments

 

Himalayan Kitchen

Chef Purna Regmi on the secrets of Nepalese cooking

 

What’s the nicest thing you’ve done for someone this week?

Germany  |  Beekeeper

 

Best of Santa Cruz County

The 2013 Santa Cruz County Readers' Poll and Critics’ Picks It’s our biggest issue of the year, and in it, your votes—more than 6,500 of them—determined the winners of The Best of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll. New to the long list of local restaurants, shops and other notables that captured your interest: Best Beer Selection, Best Locally Owned Business, Best Customer Service and Best Marijuana Dispensary. In the meantime, many readers were ever so chatty online about potential new categories. Some of the suggestions that stood out: Best Teen Program and Best Web Design/Designer. But what about: Dog Park, Church, Hotel, Local Farm, Therapist (I second that!) or Sports Bar—not to be confused with Bra. Our favorite suggestion: Best Act of Kindness—one reader noted Café Gratitude and the free meals it offered to the Santa Cruz Police Department in the aftermath of recent crimes. Perhaps some of these can be woven into next year’s ballot, so stay tuned. In the meantime, enjoy the following pages and take note of our Critics’ Picks, too, beginning on page 91. A big thanks for voting—and for reading—and an even bigger congratulations to all of the winners. Enjoy.  -Greg Archer, EditorBest of Santa Cruz County Readers’ Poll INDEX

 

A Cab To Be Coveted

I first tasted Villa del Monte’s 2011 Cabernet Sauvignon at a Fourth of July party, where the hosts had bought a case of it because they love it and didn’t want to run out. It’s one of those wines that will grab you—in the best way—with its full body and rich fruit characteristics.