Superheroes race to help abused children (Video)
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Golden Crescent CASA
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Batman ran for the finish line, his blue tennis shoes beating against the pavement as Miss America came up from behind.
Ethan Garrett, 3, finished his first 5K race Saturday morning with his Batman cape flapping in the wind and energy to spare.
"Batman is cool because he has a cape," Ethan said about why he chose Batman as his favorite superhero for the Superhero CASA 5K run/walk at Riverside Park in Victoria.
"Our slogan is: All kids need a hero, but abused kids need superheroes," said Debbie Ramirez, volunteer and recruitment coordinator for CASA, which stands for court appointed special advocates.
She put the race together hoping to raise at least $5,000 to combat child abuse in the Golden Crescent area.
Currently, she said the Golden Crescent CASA is working about 130 cases and representing about 250 children.
"The kids we get are the more serious cases," she said. "Because we get them after they have been removed from the home."
Jeni Garrett, Ethan's mom, said she and her husband brought their two boys, ages 3 and 5, to the race to teach them the importance of exercise and also to help abused children in the program.
Derrick and Jeni Garrett started One Retreat, an outreach for at-risk children, in Victoria two years ago.
They have services every Thursday for teens of all backgrounds and retreats twice a year.
"It is amazing, just the kids in Victoria who go without and come Thursday nights just for the food," Jeni Garrett said, while wearing her "Miss America" costume her sons selected.
She said it is important for the community to support abused and at-risk youth in any way, including Saturday's run, and she said it is important to make it a family event.
"I hope my boys grow up to be leaders and stay focused. We like that our kids are around that, so they know everything we have been blessed with and we need to do," she said.
Vickie Romera, of Victoria, also brought her two children to the run - Derek, 17, and Dora Oliva, 15.
The teens braved the cold and the 7:30 a.m. start time to help the kids, and they would do it again.
"Anything to support the kids," Romera said. "We try to support CASA in any way we can."
Ramirez said about 70 people preregistered for the event, and 10 registered the same day.