Community Writer
Hundreds of feet — little feet, middle-sized feet and adult feet — ran, walked and strolled, each step giving a message, “Let’s stamp out child abuse in all its forms,” causing the first such “Heroes for Kids” foot races Saturday, April 11, at Central Baptist Church “to be so successful!”
That’s the word from sponsor Satilla Advocacy Services Director Terry Anderson. She has high praises for co-sponsors of Mayo Clinic Health System, all runners, sponsoring agencies and volunteers for “helping to make the morning go so smoothly. I can’t thank  everyone enough for their support. This shows how much you care for our children. ‘Heroes for Kids’ was a great success. We raised over $6,000 and had the excitement of welcoming approximately 175 runners, people, many families, children and adults of all ages. Some seasoned runners, some first-time adventurous friends, some wanting the trophy or medal, some wanting to make the finish line, but all dedicated to helping our cause of calling attention to the tragedy of child abuse.”
The response to the cause was overwhelming, she said, adding that they had anticipated far fewer runners.
“Each one running in either the 5-K — 3-mile run — or the 1 Mile Fun Run was a winner,” Mrs. Anderson said. “Each step they took, each breath they caught, every foot raised, each arm used for balance helped to call attention to the plight of child abuse and sexual abuse. Our SAS’s first priority was to call attention to the plight of child abuse in all its forms and so, to raise money and help keep the agency operating efficiently and effectively. This is the first year of doing the foot race replacing the annual ‘The Event’ softball game that officials have participated in for several years.”
Many awards were given to winners, but as Mrs. Anderson said, “Remember, everyone of you is a winner — a hero — because you have stepped out and ran as an untiring gesture that you want to stop child abuse.”
In a future edition of this newspaper, award recipients will be announced including a special “Heroes for Kids” Challenge Cup given to the school that had the most participants. The school’s name will be engraved on the cup and will be placed at the school. Also, an award was given to the top male-female “hero” finisher who works in a profession that helps or protects kids in some way.
Assisting with the success of the day were law enforcement officials, the Waycross Police Department with Chief Tony Tanner, the SWAT team, Emergency Medical Technicians, firefighters, school social workers, Department of Family and Children’s Services and anyone who has contact with children. Special to parents were the Masons who helped parents create a project that included fingerprinting and voice analysis in the event their child is ever missing. This program was sponsored by Georgia Grand Lodge of Georgia Masons.
To highlight the award presentation, Mrs. Anderson accepted a check for $500 from Waycross Exchange  Club which has as its main project — the prevention of child abuse. Making the presentation was Waycross Police Department Chief and Waycross Exchange Club President Tony Tanner.
Serving as emcee was Max Silman, licensed professional counselor for Satilla Advocacy Services.
The race was opened with prayer by the Rev. Richard Gifford, a Pentecostal minister in Waycross. Singing the National Anthem were Kendall and Bailey Moore.
Mrs. Anderson offered a  special thanks to the Waycross Police Department for their support and making sure the race course was safe for runners, the Waycross and Ware County Fire Departments for their participation, the Ware County Sheriff’s Department and Ware County EMS with Steve Kiser for being “the best DJ ever.”
Thanks also goes to Susan Russell of Southern Exposure Photography for creating memories for everyone. And special thanks is offered sponsors, advisory board members, planning committee and all volunteers.
“I have said it before and will say it again. I am blessed to live in a community that continues to work to help victims in our community,” Mrs. Anderson said.
Mrs. Anderson, who had the joy of sharing the morning with her grandchildren, said, “Winners — those receiving T-shirts, medals and trophies, will be announced on a special Waycross Journal-Herald page.
“It was heart-warming to see parents, mothers pushing their babies in strollers, walking with their toddlers and young children. All these efforts brought more awareness of child abuse and how we can help prevent it. This day brought attention to April and ‘Child Abuse Prevention Month’ as well as ‘Sexual Assault Awareness Month.’ In America, four children die every day as a result of some kind of abuse. More than 6 million children in the United States are abused every year. A report of child abuse or sexual abuse is turned in every  10 seconds across the nation. One in 10 children are being abused.”
Among their many services to a six-county area, Satilla Advocacy Services invites everyone to attend the Stewards of Children’s program, an intense teaching on how to detect child abuse and report it, taught by prevention education coordinator Zina Ponsell. Ms. Ponsell works in the Waycross Judicial Circuit providing multiple programs to help bring awareness and prevent child abuse.
Satilla Advocacy Services, part of Mayo Clinic Health System in Waycross, is the local rape crisis center and Child Advocacy Center providing wrap around services to victims and their loved ones. SAS provides a 24 -hour crisis line, counseling services, forensic interviews, forensic exams, volunteer advocates, court accompaniment and prevention education.
Photos in Saturday’s exdition of the Waycross Journal-Herald