PORT ST. LUCIE – Some brought dogs, some brought children and still others brought teams of colleagues. They all brought game – and a healthy sense of competition that helped Communities Connected for Kids win a private audience with legendary Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy.
It was all part of this year’s Foster Care Month celebration, which began May 1 with a statewide awareness and registration campaign and culminated locally in a 1K at Woodstork Trail, around Port St. Lucie’s Hillmore Park Lake.
Earlier in the month, foster care professionals throughout Florida asked residents to commit to any 1K of activity by signing up for a statewide initiative called 1KFor1Kid. To encourage participation, Dungy, who also is a foster and adoptive father, offered to set up a private Zoom call for the organization that registered to most people.
The prize went to CCKids, which oversees the child-welfare community in Okeechobee and the Treasure Coast.
“We’re going to give the call to our foster families as a thank you for their service,” said Christina Kaiser, CCKids Community Relations Director. “We were determined to win on their behalf because Coach Dungy is such an important figure in foster-care and adoption community.”
Dungy founded the fatherhood program All Pro Dads and works with local foster-care organizations like Communities Connected for Kids to help raise awareness for issues related to foster care, adoption and parenthood.
Of the 290 people who registered for the event, 76 to 26 percent – signed up from Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee or St. Lucie counties. Many of them came to CCKThePark to complete their 1K of activity.
“It was meant to be low key – just a place and time for people to gather if they wanted to complete their activity in the company of others,” Kaiser said.
It also was an opportunity to educate the community about foster care, particularly the need for more foster parents. The course was marked with educational signs that offered foster-care facts and contact information for anyone interested in learning more.
CCKids is the non-profit organization charged by the state Department of Children and Families with the safety, permanency and well-being of all known abused, neglected and abandoned children in Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee and St. Lucie counties.