The Oriole Bird celebrates at Camden Yards with Simon Hatcher (center) and his parents, Brian and Laura Hatcher, Casey Baynes, of Casey Cares Foundation, Jill Davis and her husband, Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, on Aug. 5 at the Casey Cares and Baltimore Orioles 5K.
The Oriole Bird celebrates at Camden Yards with Simon Hatcher (center) and his parents, Brian and Laura Hatcher, Casey Baynes, of Casey Cares Foundation, Jill Davis and her husband, Orioles first baseman Chris Davis, on Aug. 5 at the Casey Cares and Baltimore Orioles 5K. (Photo by Mike Buscher)

Last September, I shared news of a young Towson resident, Simon Hatcher, who traveled with his family to a Florida dream vacation with the help of the Casey Cares Foundation, which provides activities and programs for more than 700 critically ill children each year in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Courageous Simon has had quite a busy year — one that included brain surgery — but the compassionate nine-year-old also made it a point to give something back to the special programming at Casey Cares. Simon and his parents, Brian and Laura Hatcher, rounded up a dedicated fundraising running team for the 8th Annual Casey Cares and Baltimore Orioles 5K, which took place Aug. 5.

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The run/walk had more than 1,200 participants and finished on the field at Camden Yards, with Orioles first baseman Chris Davis and his wife, Jill, serving as ambassadors. The overall winner of the run was Jim Heilman, of Lutherville, with an outstanding time of 16.36. The event raised more than $125,000 for Casey Cares to fund its programs.

The Hatcher's team of 10 runners was appropriately dubbed "Simon's Superheroes." Their energy and enthusiasm earned them a special recognition as the "Most Spirited Team" in the event. Great job, Simon and the Superheroes!

Speaking of superheroes, and running, and teams, and children…

"Team CASA" is calling for some heroes of its own! The official charity team of the Maryland Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Association is looking to expand its presence at the Baltimore Running Festival on Saturday, Oct. 21.

They have about 75 people registered to run or walk, but need to double that number by Oct. 5. Spots are available in the 5K, half marathon, marathon, team relay, BaltiMoron (doing both the 5K and half marathon races), and kids' fun run, which has two age categories: 7 & under, and 8-12.

Visit www.goteamcasa.org and find out how to register. Experienced marathoners, first-time 5K'ers, walkers, and everyone in between are equally appreciated. Be part of a terrific team, at one of the best races on the east coast, and lend your legs to a great cause.

Not a runner? CASA still wants your help! This Towson-based nonprofit trains adult volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children who need a caring, committed adult to speak up for their best interests and ensure their right to safe and permanent homes.

There are more than 5,000 children under court protection in Maryland; at least 600 are in foster care in Baltimore County. While CASA has made great strides, it is able to reach about one-third of those in need, and so is always searching for more local heroes.

For more information on becoming a CASA volunteer, visit www.marylandcasa.org/get-involved, or call 410-828-6761. A training session was just held this week, but more opportunities will be coming up, and applications must be received well in advance, so now is a super time to get started!

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