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Walk Me Home part of local man's journey

June 07, 2009|By JANET HEIM

HAGERSTOWN -- When Daniel "Dan" Hall of Hagerstown hears the words "Walk me home ... to the place I belong," he can't help but feel a personal connection.

Country singer Jaime Fox wrote that theme song for the National Foster Parent Association's signature fundraising and awareness event for foster care in America, called Walk Me Home.

Hall is chairing the Washington County League of Foster and Adoptive Families Walk Me Home event on Saturday at Fairgrounds Park in Hagerstown.

Fox, who now lives in Nashville, Tenn., is a native of Frederick, Md. The former Miss Maryland will perform her song and sign autographs at the beginning of the walk.

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Hall, 40, was born and raised in Vermont. He knows firsthand what it's like to be in foster care, and his memories aren't pleasant.

Hall was one of five children. When his biological parents split up, the three youngest children, all boys, were put in foster care.

Dan Hall was the middle boy of that group.

For three years, Hall and his two brothers endured physical, emotional and verbal abuse from their foster parents. Hall's break came when Gerry and Maggie Hall, who eventually adopted him, came for a visit.

There were reports of mistreatment of the three boys and the Halls agreed to take one of the boys, but with three children of their own and a foster daughter, were unable to take all three brothers.

Dan Hall said that whenever someone came to visit, the boys were warned to be on their best behavior or they would be taken away. Dan said even at age 5, he knew he wanted out, so he urinated on a wall during the Halls' visit.

His bad behavior worked in his favor because the Halls chose him, since he seemed to be most in need of a new home.

"It was not my proudest moment in life, but it got me where I needed to be," Hall said.

His two brothers were placed in a different foster home, where they remained through high school, but were never adopted. Hall has since been reunited with his biological siblings and father.

His biological mother died when Hall was 11. He is best friends with one of his brothers, whom he asked to be the best man at his wedding two years ago.

"I'm sure a lot of children went through worse stuff than I did. The abuse makes you wonder what you're doing wrong as a kid," Hall said.

Hall moved to Sterling, Va., for work, so he could support his first wife and 6-year-old son, with whom he said he has a good relationship. He met the "love of my life" on eHarmony.com and proposed to Tina, 34, three months later.

They moved to the Westfields development south of Prime Outlets about six months after their wedding.

Hall said he never intended to get involved with the local foster care organization, but after he and Tina went through training to become foster parents, it seemed like a natural progression.

"If I wasn't placed with the Halls, I wouldn't be the man I am today trying to help other foster children," said Hall, who considers it his way of "paying it forward."

Dan and Tina Hall have fostered five children within the past year. Two sisters are still living with them.

"We had the girls six months before I realized how much work it takes to be a foster parent," Hall said. "Being a foster parent has helped me to tell my story."

It prompted him to call Gerry Hall and thank him for giving him the structure he needed in his life. His adoptive mother died when Dan Hall was 21.

Hall, who develops computer software for Kestler Financial Group in Leesburg, Va., said his company is very family-oriented and has supported his involvement in chairing Walk Me Home.

He also gives credit to Tina for doing 95 percent of the work in raising the girls. As foster parents, they're not only responsible for the day-to-day responsibilities as parents, but also helping the children deal with issues relating to why they're in foster care.

They also have to get their foster children to doctor, dentist and orthodontist appointments, as well as to visits with their biological families as determined by the legal system.

The goal for this year's Walk Me Home walk is to raise $10,000, but more important than that is "reaching out and building relationships," Hall said.

More information about Walk Me Home can be found at www.walkmehome.org. Click on the Find a Walk link to find information about the Washington County walk. Those wishing information about being a sponsor may call Hall at 703-609-4841.




If you go

What: Walk Me Home 2009 Washington County Walk presented by Washington County League of Foster and Adoptive Families

When: Saturday, June 13. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. and participants can begin walking as soon as they register. Opening ceremony is at 9:20 a.m. Jaime Fox performs at 9:30 a.m.

Where: Fairgrounds Park, 351 N. Cleveland Ave., Hagerstown

Cost: Raise a minimum of $30 to earn a Walk Me Home T-shirt; can also do a virtual walk to raise money without walking by signing up online

Contact: Dan Hall at 703-609-4841 or go to www.walkmehome.org and click on Find a Walk, then go to Maryland, Washington County.

Directions: From Hagerstown, take Dual Highway (U.S. 40) and go north on Cleveland Avenue until you come to the south parking lot at Fairgrounds Park.

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