This story was shared with our staff and it immediately reminded us why our Kidsfest Superhero Race on April 6th is so important….It’s not just about raising funds, it’s about getting out there and doing something that changes a child’s life.
“Let’s put your sneakers on.” The cutest little boy was playing with a train set at the Center. He had one sneaker tied and the other kicked onto the floor. As a volunteer, I had no idea what crisis he had been removed from but it was my job to make sure he was safe, distracted by toys before his forensic interview and kept comfortable in the bright, friendly playroom.
“Here, Jason, I’ll help you put this on.” As I attempted to gently wedge the tennis shoe onto his squirming little foot, Jason started to cry. “Does your foot hurt?” He pulled the back of his sock down to reveal blisters. I realized his shoes had been rubbing against his heel and ankle. “Oh, you poor little guy, looks like these shoes are too tight.”
I wiped his tears and gave him a hug. Jason didn’t speak. He looked down at the floor. “Hey, it’s OK, Buddy. Look! I’m kicking off my shoe too!” Jason smiled a little. He touched his tender heel and brought his fingers to his lips, then moved his hand back and forth as if pantomiming someone smoking a cigarette and bringing that cigarette to his heel. I realized Jason’s shoes were not too tight and his injuries were no accident.
One of the professionals confirmed that the “blisters” on Jason’s feet were consistent with the look of cigarette burns and his abuser had carefully masked the cruel acts in such a way that a child who was barely verbal would have difficulty explaining. As an expert in the field, she had seen such things before.
Because of the alert staff at the Center, Jason did not have to go home to his abuser and today he can run, jump and play in his comfy sneakers.
When you take part in the Kidsfest Superhero Race, you run or walk for a child like Jason who was not able to lace up his sneakers and enjoy being a regular kid because someone hurt him. Your small steps represent his healing, your great strides represent his emotional recovery and that exhilarating moment when you hit your perfect pace represents the joyful future children like Jason deserve.