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CASA Program gets help from Superheroes

Written by: Maggie Fritzen Posted on: July 27, 2015 Blog: In the Community

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"Our volunteers are superheroes for abused and neglected children," said Karen Biernacki, CEO of Family Advocates which oversees the Court Appointed Special Advocate or CASA program.

The organization partnered with Tryon Farm Institute on Saturday for a Superhero 5K/10K which had more than 150 participants, walkers and runners, young and old, dressed as their favorite superhero for the event- with a handful of people taking home prizes for their costumes.

Following the race, a costume contest was held with La Porte Mayor Blair Milo, La Porte County Magistrate W. Johnathan Forker and CASA volunteer and Tryon Farm community member Paula Hardin serving as judges.

Taking first place in the youth division was 9-year old Esai Hernandez, Margaret Haggerty won for the individual adult contest and also was part of the team winning for best group costume. This group was made up of NIPSCO employees including Haggerty, Angie Nelson Deuitch, Pat Kieszowski, Rich Ostertag, Heather Tokarz and Nilay Parikh.

This was the third year for the superhero run Biernacki said, but the first year it was held in partnership with Tryon Farm.

The two organizations collaborated last year when Tryon Farm hosted a farm-to-fork tasting event, a fundraiser for Family Advocates - leading to this year's event.

Scott Kuchta, presiden of Tryon Farm Institute, said that both partners will benefit from the superhero run and the proceeds received will help support all of the Tryon Farm programs while also helping to maintain the land and trails on Tryon Road.

"We have 65 acres that we own and over 100 that we maintain and control, (the proceeds) also help generally support the programs that we do - outreach and education with local community groups and local schools.

Kuchta said Tryon Farm has several community partnerships including with Nicole Messacar, who works forfthe La Porte County Soil and Water Conservation District. "We collaborate on everything we do," Kuchta said, adding Messacar brings several groups of school children to Tryon Farm throughout the year.

The CASA program through Family Advocates will also benefit from the superhero run proceeds. Biernacki said, "One of the reasons we do superhero runs every year is to recruit new volunteers because we have about 70 kids on a waiting list and I just hate to see that. Right now, there is a really high influx of kids being removed from their homes because of abuse and neglect and we have a lot of substance abuse and poverty."

For information about becoming a CASA or a CAYA click here

For more information about Tryon Farm Institute go to

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