Produced by BiG Children’s Foundation (BCF) – a non-profit organization that provides opportunity and hope for foster teens and at-risk youth—the annual BiG Cardio 5K and Multi-Sport Event is a unique blend of fitness, sports and family fun. With more than 10 different fitness and sport activities to choose from and dozens of other attractions, it’s become one of South Florida’s favorite events.
The event was designed to reach several different audiences simultaneously in one location, so there is something for everyone in the family. “It’s a multi-sport event, so it’s perfect for the entire family,” said Joyce Feldman of BiG Children’s Foundation. “And this year, we’ve added a special needs/wheelchair division so everyone can participate.” Since its inception in 2008, the goal is to be inclusive of the whole family, while simultaneously attracting the active community as well. “Not only is BiG Cardio fun, but it acts as a platform to raise awareness for foster teens and at-risk youth and generates revenue for our iMfit2SUCCEED program.”
The iMfit2SUCCEED Program—for foster teens, victims of human trafficking and abuse, and at-risk youth age 14 up—focuses on key areas necessary to help them heal and transition into adulthood successfully. Through mentoring, training, education and real-time experience, the goal is to the help the teens restore hope, become physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy, redirect pain and anger into something productive, and develop skills to succeed in life. “In meeting with child welfare agencies and churches over the past several months, it became clear that a long-term wrap around program like this is needed in the community. And with the awful tragedy we saw in Parkland recently, you have to wonder if the young man who committed the crime had people in his life who were discipling him,
“We aim to heal their past, and reshape their future. Sometimes it’s hard to look at an angry, rebellious teen and feel compassion and empathy. But the truth is, these kids have value and at the core, they’re just children. They were victimized and circumstances shaped them; it wasn’t their choice. But they’re left to pick up the pieces and try to survive. It’s a serious issue, and it effects everyone.”
The trauma they experience in childhood and adolescence can stay with them for life. “The effects of abuse don’t stop just because you get big,” said Debralen Cula Rodriguez, 43, former foster teen who aged out of the system in Hawaii through the Casey Family Program. “The trauma left behind from physical abuse can have long term effects and can resurface later in your life.”
“Children are our future. We are committed to developing programs that lead young people to positively change their lives – programs that give them the confidence, knowledge and tools to succeed,” said BCF Board Member, John Marley. “We will either pay later if they choose a life of crime to survive, or we can choose to pay now proactively with our love, time and resources. We want to invest in them now.”
Calling all Companies and Churches
There are many ways to get involved. While you can register for the 5K Run/Walk, fitness activities and sports tourneys, you don’t have to be the sports sort or a fitness fanatic to make a BiG impact in our community. Come and spectate or volunteer! High Schoolers can earn community service hours, too. Or, consider financially supporting BiG Children’s Foundation by making a donation to the overall campaign at BiGCardio.org.