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Renee Martin first became a foster mom in June of 2010 and has since enjoyed sharing her home with 7 foster children, ranging in age from 4 months to 13 years. Now, she and her family are gearing up for their second – and Chattanooga’s 3rd – annual “Tennessee Walk Me Home” 5K walk for foster care to take place on September 10, 2013 at the Chattanooga Riverpark.
 
“I have a huge heart for children,” Renee shared. “Every kid deserves a chance and if I can make their stay in the system as pleasant as it can be, I will. I feel like if I can expose these kids to different cultures and different life experiences while they are in my home, I’m doing my part. The last set of kids I fostered had never been to the beach, never put their feet in the sand, so I took them to the beach over spring break and they loved every minute of it! People think fostering changes the children’s lives – and it does – but what a lot of people don’t understand is how much it also changes your life.”
 
According to The National Foster Parent Association there are more than 500,000 children in foster care across the country. Approximately 7,200 of these children reside in Tennessee and for many years the Tennessee Foster Adoptive Care Association (TFACA) has been a voice for Tennessee’s foster and adoptive families.
 
The Walk Me Home 5K event was developed in order to bring awareness to foster care, promote fostering, and to raise funds which directly benefit Tennessee’s foster children and youth through the Walk Me Home Enrichment Fund.
 
“This is the fourth year in which a nationwide event of this magnitude has been organized with specific focus on foster care,” said Cheryl Paris, representative for Walk Me Home. “There are more than 100 communities in 25 states participating in Walk Me Home. With your help we can make a lasting, positive impact in the lives’ of Tennessee’s foster kids.”
 
Registration begins at 9 a.m. on September 10, rain or shine. Participants are asked to pay a $30 registration fee or collect at least $30 in pledge contributions. Everyone will receive a t-shirt and other incentives will be awarded according to fundraising levels achieved. All pledges must be turned in on the day of the event. Cash and checks made out to Walk Me Home will be accepted.
 
Renee Martin’s whole family is onboard with sharing their lives with foster children, including her husband, Saint, their 14 year-old son “young” Saint, their 12 year-old daughter Layla, and even their 3 year-old son, Jordan.
 
“We’re all going to walk,” she said. “Even Jordan! I’m also going to recruit as many of my co-workers as I possibly can.” Renee is a national sales representative for Visual Print Group and Design of Fort Oglethorpe. She encourages everyone in and around the Chattanooga area to come out and make a difference.
 
“I’d take all the kids if I could,” Renee Martin said. “I wish I had a giant mansion. I want to be like that little old lady in the shoe that takes in all the kids.”
 
For more information contact Cheryl Paris at 423-296-2324 or e-mail her at Cheryl.paris@tn.gov.
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