When sharing why I have been so invested and involved in Miracle Miles for Kids every year for the past twelve years, I have to go back to why I worked at Family Care Network for a season.
I believe God has a special heart for children who have been through trauma, abuse or neglect. That’s where God’s heart of hearts is and God wants to be there with these children. I think God has endless care and concern for all children, but especially those who have been dealt a rough hand of cards and have a lot to overcome; those who have experienced trauma and heartbreak. Participating in Miracle Miles for Kids, forming teams, and fundraising for FCNI’s programs allows us all to play a part of the healing process for kids. When I’m hanging out with kids in foster care, I feel closer to God than at any other time in my life. We as a community, need to surround these kids not just to prove that we’re good people or that we’re kinder than the average person, but, rather, because we’re just a drop in the enormous bucket of love God’s heart has for these kids.
When I first joined the FCNI team, my buddy Brian Redin told me about Miracle Miles for Kids. Year after year, Brian is the hilarious host behind the microphone at the finish line. I started volunteering at MM4K by helping him at the finish line. We had so much fun the entire day, all the while knowing that this fundraiser was for such a good cause. The whole Miracle Miles event from Morro Rock to the Cayucos Pier is beautiful, especially seeing the community come out to run for a great reason--seeing people cross the finish line with big joyful smiles knowing that they just did a good thing to help children. It is always a great feeling to participate, whether you’re running, walking, volunteering, or just fundraising and cheering everyone on towards our end goal of raising money for local kids and families. Every year, I look forward to helping and participating in the event, and it’s always been one of the most fun days of my year, being out there with the community uniting for a great purpose.
My fundraising tactic for Miracle Miles for Kids every year is to start out by reaching out to the people closest to me, first by asking them to join my team, and if they can’t, asking them to join me by making a pledge. From there, more and more people have connected with my team, and now I have a huge base of people who either join me to participate in the event or donate towards our team’s fundraising goal. Participants in Miracle Miles for Kids not only get to be a part of a really fun community event, but they also learn more about FCNI and get to make a difference for the kids FCNI serves. If you just start a team and get going, things will take off on their own with a little bit of effort. It’s not hard to ask your friends and family to give to FCNI, because it’s an amazing organization that will use the funds for amazing purposes.
Right now, I’m gearing up with my team trying to be an ambassador for Family Care Network and the Miracle Miles for Kids fundraiser at Mountainbrook Church. I’m trying to promote the event and get people to join my team, putting effort into spreading the word. I’m starting with the people closest to me, trying to get people fired up and involved in fundraising for FCNI. It’s my hope that my team will raise $4,000 for FCNI this year! Sometimes I set big goals, but I think it’s very doable with the community I have in my church. The kids that FCNI serves are God’s kids, and we should love and care for them. I love that Miracle Miles for Kids enables me to do my small part to this end.
I know that the funds we all raise for Miracle Miles for Kids not only works to maintain the programs that Family Care Network runs, but these funds also make it possible for FCNI to say “yes” to all of their kids’ and families’ needs; including extra stuff like sending a kid to camp for the summer, equipping new college students with laptops for school, providing a bicycle for a youth to get to and from school and work, and so much more. FCNI gets some funding from the government, but so much of these funds are restricted to cover general operating costs and aren’t enough to cover all program costs. FCNI has to fundraise for private donations through events such as Miracle Miles for Kids in order to cover ALL actual programs costs and to meet needs that the government see as falling “outside of basic needs”.
Fundraised dollars provide for opportunities and experiences that can really touch a kid’s heart; they create real “childhood” memories. Sometimes when a kid is coming out of or dealing with a difficult family situation, it is important for them to have a meaningful birthday celebration, receive new clothing selected by them to help them feel confident and important, or to be provided with experiences that are personalized and meaningful to them to reflect their worth and to engage their passions and joy. As a result of donations and fundraising done through FCNI, I’ve seen kids be able to participate in equine therapy, go to football camp to become part of a team, get a skateboard for their birthday, or purchase new clothing to start at a new school. Sometimes, these funds are used to send a kid out with their mentor so they can have fun at the movies or go miniature golfing--opportunities for them to just be a kid for awhile. Kids being served through FCNI have all experienced trauma and circumstances which are well beyond their age. FCNI works to ensure that not only are all of their basic needs met in care--safe housing, caring caregivers, etc.--but the agency also works to make sure that ALL of their needs are met--physical, mental, educational and personal.
I think that when every one of us in society gets healthier, the society itself gets healthier. Without some relational and therapeutic intervention, many at-risk children are going to end up in the system somewhere along the line. Not helping these hurting children is going to cost our community a lot more down the road, and early intervention and preventative services are always a better way to invest. With necessary funding, FCNI has the opportunity to get involved and provide kids and families with the support they need to be successful and healthy. When we as a community surround these kids with the necessary support and love, they get whole and healthy, and can lead more productive lives instead of lives that are full of hurt, anger and unhealthy choices. These kids and families are worth our time, attention and investment.
When I gear up to fundraise for Miracle Miles for Kids each year, I picture my own kids, parented by my wife and me. We did the best we could; we weren’t perfect, but at least our kids were always deeply loved. I picture the kids I’ve known in the child welfare system, kids who sometimes grow up without nurturing love, and I can hardly process or stand it. I feel that whatever we can do as a community to help these kids is worth it. God loves them, God understands them, and God wants our community to touch their lives in loving ways.