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Ph.D. Student Sara Markuson Organizes Foster 5K to Benefit Foster Children in Silicon Valley

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Update: The Foster 5K, held on September 13th, welcomed nearly 400 participants and raised more than $32,000. Participants checked in from California, Montana, Michigan, and New Jersey. Also, PAU Team Knowledge captain Nicole Khauli submitted the winning photo for the Most Festive Award (photo below). 
On Sunday, September 13th, hundreds of individuals will run, walk, or bike the “Foster 5K” to raise funds for Child Advocates of Silicon Valley. Behind the scenes, PAU doctoral student Sara Markuson has been working for months to organize the event, increase participation, and even map out the route before the event was made virtual due to COVID-19.
Markuson is a fourth year Ph.D. student and a member of the PAU Health & Wellness Club, which was previously the PAU Run Club. This student organization has historically been involved with the Foster 5K, but Sara’s skills and passion have taken it to the next level. She anticipates 200-300 people participating in the event, with this year potentially being the more geographically accessible.
“With the opportunity for folks to do it virtually, it’s a very unique opportunity, because people can do it from anywhere,” Sara said. She’s even involved her parents who will participate in Montana.
Markuson previously worked in speech and language pathology, a career that meant she did home visits and often encountered foster children. She notes how transient their lives were as she visited them at a different home each week. The upside was that Sara was a constant in their lives as she visited them week over week.

“I just loved my work with those kids. In particular, I felt a really deep connection to them and to helping them and to doing whatever I could to support them through their early development,” said Markuson. This firsthand experience makes her involvement with the Foster 5K even more meaningful.
Child Advocates of Silicon Valley reports there are 1,000 children in foster care in Santa Clara County. The nonprofit trains volunteers to serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) for the children, all of whom have experienced traumas such as abandonment, neglect, or abuse. Markuson’s goal for the event is to raise $10,000 and the more people who participate, the more CASAs can be trained, and the more children can be supported throughout the Santa Clara County Dependency Court System.
The Foster 5K event organizers have had to change all their plans to make sure this event continues to support Child Advocates of Silicon Valley. The 5K can be walked, ran, or bicycled from anywhere this year, although the original course at Sunnyvale Baylands can still be utilized. At 4:00 pm PST on September 13th, participants can join a Zoom call to celebrate and potentially win raffle prizes. Participants can also submit photos and videos or tag the Foster 5K social media channels. 
Palo Alto University has three teams titled Justice, Knowledge, and Inclusion, which Markuson says captures the intersection of the spirit of the Foster 5K and PAU’s values. For more information or to register for the Foster 5K benefitting Child Advocates of Silicon Valley, visit https://www.foster5k.org/.
PAU Team Knowledge captain Nicole Khauli submitted the winning photo for the Most Festive Award:

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