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Walk Me Home raises money for foster care

June 13, 2009|By MARIE GILBERT

HAGERSTOWN -- Dina Kegarise is too humble to consider herself a special person.

But in the world of foster care, she's a difference-maker.

Over the past 16 years, the Hagerstown woman has made a home for more than 30 children.

Some are infants, others are teens. But all have one thing in common. They are surrounded by support and love when they come through her door, she said.

Kegarise admitted being a foster parent isn't for everyone.

"But I need to be needed. So this is perfect for me," she said. "This is the most rewarding experience I can imagine."

Kegarise joined several hundred people Saturday morning at Fairgrounds Park in Hagerstown to participate in a fundraising and awareness event for local foster care called Walk Me Home.

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The 5K walk was presented by the Washington County League of Foster and Adoptive Families.

According to Mary Patton, president of the nonprofit organization, there are more than 200 local children in foster care.

"Some are in group homes, some in foster homes, others in therapeutic homes," she said. "The purpose of our group is to support all of those children."

Though the league has been around for about 30 years, Patton said, "We have gone so unnoticed. People often ask, 'Who are you and what do you do.' We're here to help foster parents find resources. And we're here for the kids."

A national fundraising event, this is the first year Walk Me Home has been held in Hagerstown, chairman Dan Hall said.

Organizers were hoping to raise about $10,000.

Forty percent of that total will remain in Washington County to support programs and events for children in foster care, Patton said.

People wishing to make a donation can receive more information about the fundraiser by going to www.walkmehome.org.

Kegarise said she has formed a special relationship with each of her foster children -- two of whom she adopted.

Many are now adults, she said, but they continue to stay in touch.

"Some have gone into the military or moved away from the area, and when they come back to Hagerstown, they come to see me and my husband," she said. "This is their home. These are my kids."

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