Running for a cause

All in good spirit, about a hundred people put on their favorite superhero costume and made their way down to Grace Dunn Richardson Park in Lufkin for a morning run.  Saturday CASA of the Pines held their 4th annual Superhero 5k run to bring awareness to child abuse. April is child abuse awareness month. Runner Sandy White came out today to get some exercise and make a statement.

"If our children don't feel safe they aren't going to learn," White said.

White is a teacher and said it's important for children to have a healthy environment outside of school, but some children don't get that opportunity.

When a child become a victim of abuse and neglect organizations like CASA, which stands for court appointed special advocates, step in.

"We make sure that all their needs are being met from the physical, psychological, spiritual emotional needs are being meet," said Natalie Thorton, CASA

They do so by meeting with the children every so often to make sure they are doing well in school and are thriving in their new placement.

Natalie Thornton has been a court appointed special advocates for the last five years and said child abuse is a growing problem in the area. Currently casa of the pines deals with more than 200 cases a day, and the national numbers for child abuse are just as alarming. Thornton said approximately 2,000 children become a victim of abuse or neglect in the United States every day. Sadly, at least four children die every day as a result of that abuse. Thorton said every child she works with touches her heart.

"Just recently I was talking to a little girl she is about 7 years old,  and she was recently adopted and I asked her what do you call your casa because I  didn't know if she called her casa by her first name or what and she told me that she calls her casa her fairy god mother," Thorton said.

"Organizations like casa do so much to protect the ones that can't protect themselves," White said.

Since 1995 CASA of the pines has served more than 1,000 abused and neglected children in Angelina, Houston, and Polk counties.