Rockford woman takes on Ironman for orphans

What does an ironman triathlon—a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike, and 26.2-mile run—have to do with orphans? Just ask Rebecca Cruttenden, a Rockford resident and mother of three adopted children. “They have everything to do with each other! Orphans are the reason why I race!” Cruttenden said.

Last year Cruttenden raced a half ironman and raised $10,000 to help pay for the adoption of a group of five siblings from the Philippines. They are coming home to a West Michigan family this spring. On May 21, 2011, Cruttenden will be competing in Ironman Texas to raise another $10,000 for another sibling group.

Cruttenden represents an organization called Brittany’s Hope Foundation, located in Pennsylvania. Brittany’s Hope raises money and places grants on special needs children in orphanages around the world to help encourage their adoption. In the last 10 years, the foundation has helped 350 children find forever families. Brittany’s Hope works with Bethany Christian Services (BCS) in Grand Rapids. BCS finds the adoptive families for the waiting children, while Brittany’s Hope raises money for the grant.

Cruttenden’s passion for orphans started when she was 12 years old. After babysitting children in her church who were adopted, she was changed forever.

“I lay in bed that night and couldn’t sleep. I felt God’s calling—this is what you’re supposed to do,” said Cruttenden .

Since that night over 20 years ago, Cruttenden has always had a special place in her heart for orphans and adoption. She and her husband, Tom, have three children adopted from

Russia in 2003: Sasha, 13, Andre, 11, and Rosa, 10.

In the past eight years, Cruttenden has helped several other families fundraise for adoptions by organizing garage sales, bake sales, and jewelry shows. But starting last spring, the fundraisers got a lot more physically demanding. Instead of sitting at a garage sale table, she’s out swimming, biking and running all day.

“I started doing triathlons four years ago, but it wasn’t until a year ago that I realized I could combine my love for the sport and my heart for orphans,” said Cruttenden. “God brought the two together in a big way.”

Cruttenden is on a mission. She has $10,000 to raise before Ironman Texas on May 21, 2011. She currently has
11 business sponsors from the area who have donated, and the current fundraising total is $3,225.60. If you would like make a tax-deductible donation and help another sibling group find an adoptive family, please visit or mail donations to Brittany’s Hope Foundation/Ironman, 1160 North Market Street, Elizabethtown, PA 17022.

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