Superheroes saved the day Saturday for a Longview nonprofit agency that represents children in times when help is most needed.
At the East Texas Court-Appointed Special Advocates’ Superhero 5K and 1-mile runs at the Longview Mall, the fact that some superheroes were dressed like dinosaurs, cowboys and video game characters didn’t matter.
“It’s a statewide theme, because our volunteers are superheroes for children,” said Shelly Smith, executive director of East Texas CASA. “The work that they do, the caring hearts that they have, that makes them superheroes.”
CASA is an agency in which screened, trained volunteers picked by judges represent and advocate for young people in courtrooms during child protection proceedings.
About 450 East Texas CASA volunteers represent between 700 and 800 children in Gregg, Upshur and Rusk counties, but Smith and racers said more volunteers are needed.
“We always need volunteers. That’s our biggest need all of the time, and until we start serving 100 percent of the kids in care, then that is our biggest need,” Smith said. “We need at least 100 volunteers.”
Dr. Tiffany Egbe offered the same sentiment as to why she was running Saturday, along with a host of other doctors from Christus Good Shepherd Health System.
“I’m here to support Court-Appointed Special Advocates, children that have been taken out of the home,” Egbe said. “We need more volunteers. We need more resources for volunteers.”
Theresa Hollis of Longview was one of several racers dressed as Wonder Woman.
“I am Wonder Woman according to my son,” said Hollis, who is in training to become a CASA volunteer, “and also I believe in health and working out and exercising, and I enjoying running in 5K races, so let’s put the two together.”
Saturday wasn’t her first race in costume. She participated in last year’s Monster Dash benefiting the Junior League of Longview, but she didn’t have a name for that costume.
“It was something I just kind of put together with a tutu and black and pink, so it was cute,” the Junior League member said. “That’s what matters — it was cute.”
Longview Police Area Representative Officer Misty Ryan handled security, but with a twist.
Ryan dressed as the Incredible Hulk, and her 6-year-old son Ty stood beside her in his Super Mario Bros. costume.
“He said (Mario) is a superhero,” Ryan said, adding that CASA “a chance of getting fostered, to have a family and a better life.”
Hallsville 11-year-old Dalton “Bubba” Hill won the 5K race for the second consecutive year. When asked about the secret to his success, he answered, “Just run.”
His mom, Stephanie Hill, said as much. “He just runs.”
Smith hoped the fundraiser would bring in about $4,000 for CASA, but she appreciated the creativity she sees each year at the race.
“Running in a dinosaur costume is just kind of crazy, and then we had some different superheroes,” Smith said. “It’s always fun to see what everybody does, and then the dogs dress up in their costumes, too.”
Oh, yeah, there was a boxer-mastiff dressed as Wonder Woman, too. Go figure.