Rockford students take part in event that raises money for orphans

By Cindy M. Cranmer

Team-OrphansA Rockford woman, who previously put together an organization that helped athletes come to the aid of abandoned and orphaned children worldwide, conducted the first athletic event by that organization. The group had previously allowed athletes to raise money as part of other events.

Rebecca Cruttenden, Team Orphans founder, expanded the organization nationwide in February 2012. Team Orphans has partnered with organized events as an official charity partner in the past. Individual athletes also can pick an athletic event, such as biking, walking, running or a triathlon, then set a fundraising goal and have 100 percent go towards child adoption grants. Team Orphans recently put together its own 5K event with 100 percent of the monies raised benefiting adoption and orphans through Brittany’s Hope.

More than $9,000 was raised at the Cookie 5K Run and Walk at Robinette’s Apple Haus recently. More than 350 runners and walkers hit the trails through the apple orchards and surrounding fields.

Statistics about adoption from Brittany’s Hope were placed throughout the course to remind participants why they were doing the event as they ran up large hills or through narrow, tree-lined paths. Brittany’s Hope helps unite special needs children with families throughout the United States who want to adopt but are burdened by the cost. International adoption runs about $30,000; domestic adoptions cost $10,000 to $15,000. Special needs children includes kids older than the age of two, sibling groups who want to remain together, or kids who have medical or other special needs.

Ian Cook, an 11-year-old North Rockford Middle School student, placed at the top of the youth category completing the 3.2 miles in just over 24 minutes. His father, Zach, said they participate as a family.

“We run 5Ks where the money goes to good causes,” Cook said.

Erin Collings brought a group of Roguewood Elementary students out to the event. Collings, who was adopted from South Korea at age seven, said “I wanted to pick an athletic event that showed the girls that their dedication and hard work will make a difference forever.

“We wanted it to be about more than a race,” she said. “We chose this as an alternative to Girls on the Run as every dollar raised goes to help a family adopt a child. We called it Running with a Purpose.”

“It was hard, but it felt good because you knew you were doing something to make a difference,” said Josie Dew, 11.

Ana Brummel, 11, was adopted from Guatemala. A recent trip to Guatemala showed Brummel directly how her life has been changed. “I saw firsthand the difference adoption makes,” Brummel said.

“Just being able to help other people while helping myself is great,” said Elsa Dondit, 11. The entire group agreed running for a cause made the training worth it. The girls, who are friends of Collings’ daughter Chloe, hope to participate in other events in the future.

Cruttenden is happy with the event and plans to make it an annual thing. “Every dollar we raised today goes towards child adoption,” she said. “Supporting Team Orphans means that you can help more children experience the miracles of adoption and getting a family of their own. That’s our ultimate goal to bring children home to families of their very own.”

If interested, you can sign up at to raise donations, sponsor athletes or get more information about upcoming events. Cruttenden can be reached at

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