Fitness, Faith & Family – 4KIDS BiG Cardio

4KIDS Big CardioWhat do foster care, fitness, fundraising and family have in common? Well, this spring, to kick off National Foster Care Month, 4KIDS will celebrate its 8th annual 4KIDS BiG Cardio 5K Fitness and Sports event on Saturday, May 2 from 7 – 11 am at Central Broward Regional Park. Focusing on families and team sports, 4KIDS Big Cardio will feature seven different fitness activities and sports including the 5K run/walk, cardio class, cycling, Kidfit, Crossfit & obstacle course, a volleyball tournament and a kickball tournament.

The choice of the month is not just a convenient coincidence; 4KIDS has been recognized, both locally and nationally, as the definitive model of how to help kids in crisis.

A Big Mission

Unbeknownst to many, this wealthy nation we live in has a huge orphan problem – approximately half a million orphans live in group homes, foster care and, worst of all, on the streets. 4KIDS’ vision to combat this crisis is “A Home for Every Child” — not housing or institutional care, mind you, but a loving, God-centered home and family environment.

In its 17 short years, 4KIDS has accomplished the seemingly impossible; from newborns to 17-year olds, every child in Broward County who is brought into the Child Welfare system – because of abuse, neglect or abandonment – is given loving shelter and care at 4KIDS’ SafePlace while they wait for a more permanent placement. 4KIDS places children in Broward, Palm Beach and Treasure Beach counties with a foster care family or at a family-style home that allows siblings to stay together, rather than splitting up the family.

A faith-based organization, built on biblical principles, 4KIDS takes its Believe in God (BiG) mission seriously. Its homes stress a residential, family-focused environment, with a limit of five kids at a time. This standard is important because it fosters a warm, one-on-one family atmosphere, not a shelter environment, which tends to be impersonal, institutional and ultimately not beneficial. Although not an adoption agency, 4KIDS facilitates adoption through the fostering program. It typically employs a husband and wife together and currently has over 200 individual foster families.

The impact of SafePlace 4KIDS has been so powerful that it has transformed Broward County from “Worst to First” in the state of Florida for safe placement outcomes, according to ChildNet and the Department of Children and Families (DCF). 4KIDS also has programs for pregnant teens (4KIDS His Caring Place) and teens/young adults between 18 and 23 years old who are aging out of the foster care system (4KIDS Spirit of Success Institute).

Building families…through teams

With an organization that is so focused on building and reuniting families, it is no surprise that its major annual fundraising event focuses on families and team sports.

Because many of the activities are team-centric, this is a great event for corporations to get involved, have team-building exercises and contribute to a very worthy cause. Corporations with teams of 50 or more get a free tent with banner, as well as the company name printed on the back of their participant T-shirts.

Major sponsors this year include: Ryder (the Presenting Sponsor), Publix, Starbucks and Chick-Fil-A.

It is truly heart-warming that so many companies in South Florida choose to invest in such a crucial and meaningful mission.

Hunter Tully, Managing Director of Finance, for Ryder Supply Chain Solutions had this to say: “Ryder proudly supports 4KIDS and the innovative approaches they are using to change the lives of orphans and foster children in Florida and beyond. With a well-trained, experienced staff and a committed team of volunteers, 4KIDS is pioneering successful solutions that are of interest to communities throughout the nation. Ryder is pleased to sponsor the annual 4KIDS BiG Cardio Event, and we invite other businesses and donors to join us in supporting 4KIDS in their important mission.”

Nicole Maristany Krauss, Media & Community Relations Manager for Publix Supermarkets, Inc. added “Publix is proud to support 4KIDS­ of South Florida and the important work they do to provide valuable services to families, children in foster care, and foster youth aging out of the system. We’re thrilled to partner with them again in their efforts to make a difference in the lives of foster children and families in need.”

Fun for all

Even if you’re not part of a company event or are really great at sports, there literally is something for everyone. Other fun activities include mini-golf, mechanical rides, rock-climbing walls, bungee jumping, food trucks, face-painting booths, live DJ/Entertainment and still more.

Get involved

The 4KIDS BiG Cardio Event will be held on Saturday, May 2 from 7 – 11 am at Central Broward Regional Park, 3700 NW 11th Place, Lauderhill. Registration starts at 6 am. All participants will receive a blue 4KIDS T-shirt. Event fees (purchased by April 30) are $30 for adults and $15 for children (ages 6-12). Event Day pricing is $40 for adults and $20 for children. There is no charge for children 5 years old and under.

4KIDS goal this year is 2,500 attendees and $300,000 in fundraising. Let’s get out there, and raise some fun and some funds with our family and friends… for the kids!

Keisha McDonnough is a research analyst and writer. A Jamaican native and South Florida resident, she is passionate about poetry and vow writing. Check out her website at everaftervows.com.

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