I wondered why a growing number of Court Appointed Special Advocate programs in the U.S., including Lexington, were hosting Superhero Runs to raise awareness of, and money for, work that their volunteers do so quietly and effectively throughout the year.
And then I read this in the news release about the event: "Superman was adopted. Spiderman was raised by his uncle. Batman grew up with his butler, Alfred, and later took in Robin to raise as his ward. Thor was kicked out of Asgard by his dad but eventually re-unified with his family. Few superheroes grow up in a typical family situation raised by their own parents, yet they all accomplished great things as adults."
Wow. What would have happened to those heroes had we labeled them at-risk.
"CASA," the news release continued, "a nonprofit that advocates for children who've experienced abuse or neglect, believes all children deserve the chance to grow up happy and healthy and become superhero adults themselves."
I almost ran to a sewing store to gather material for tights and a cape.
Knowing that people — many of them volunteers — are looking out for children who don't get the best of starts in life should be enough to encourage us to sign up for Lexington's CASA Superhero Run set for Sept. 20 at Coldstream Park.
"This is not a normal 5K run," said CASA of Lexington's Executive Director Melynda Milburn Jamison, just in case the large number of people in costumes was not a dead giveaway.
But to keep things on the up-and-up for legitimate 5K runners, chip-timing will be used, Jamison said.
"That is a first for us," she said.
Last year, the first time for the superhero theme, 538 participants showed up in the rain to support the program. Jamison is hoping for 1,000 this year. And she wants the event to be as family friendly as possible.
To that extent, there is a 1K for children 12 and younger, or even adults. Each registered child receives a free cape, and no matter how far they run or walk, each child will receive a medal as well.
"I don't care if they go one step or the whole way," Jamison said. "Where they stop, someone will drape a medal around their necks."
For runners or walkers in the 5K, 300 small figurines or action figures will be placed along the course. Each has a number on the bottom that entitles the holder to special prizes ranging from a comic book to a $500 gift certificate.
Plus, the top three male and female winners in each of several age categories will be awarded a handmade plaque created by Rick McGee, a local artist.
"We also give trophies for the largest group of friends and family; business and organizations; church teams and Greek teams."
And, of course, the officials couldn't encourage costumes without handing out rewards for the best and most creative get-ups for humans and pets.
Once registered, participants can enjoy a variety of activities in a festival atmosphere. There will be inflatables, carnival games, face painting and a crafts booth where children can make comic strips or masks. There will also be opportunities to take photos in front of a giant city skyline or behind a cardboard stand that allows you to put your face above the body of a superhero.
Starting Thursday, two Lextran buses and a billboard will feature ads for the race created by Joey Ball. The first people to take photos of the buses or billboard and post them on the CASA Facebook page will win a prize as well.
Registration for the race is online, by mail or at Embassy Suites Lexington on race day. The cost is $25 for adults and $15 for children 12 and younger for early registration and $5 more on the day of the race.
In 2013, local CASA volunteers served as the voice of 171 children in court, but more than 1,000 additional children in Lexington need that help. Money raised through the Superhero Run will be used to sustain and expand their services. Children with CASA volunteers are more likely to perform better in school and less likely to move to various caregivers or be assigned to longterm foster care.
Instead, they are more likely to find safe, permanent homes than children without CASA.
And we all can help them achieve those goals just by signing up to have fun.
Jamison is looking for several volunteers willing to help just on race day. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org for assignments.
One final surprise is planned for the runners that I can't reveal. You'll have to participate to learn what that is.
"It is going to be a wild ride," Jamison said.
I believe her.