MASSENA — More than 100 runners took part in a relay run that covered 125 miles in 24 hours to raise awareness of adoption.

“We had a great turnout and things went smoothly,” organizer Greg Hurlbut said. “We had over 100 runners participate and covered the 24 legs, 125 miles well.”

Mr. Hurlbut and his wife, Jessica, pastors at New Testament Church in Massena, founded All4One Adoption Awareness, an organization that highlights the children in foster care who are freed to be adopted and need a forever home. The Hurlbuts adopted a sibling group of two from foster care in 2015, and that’s when they learned of the massive need for foster and adoptive parents.

As part of the awareness effort, Mrs. Hurlbut has promoted and organized an All4One Adoption Awareness Run that began in 2018 when she trained to run 110 miles, bringing awareness to the 110,000 kids waiting to be adopted in foster care across the country at the time. On a day that brought a snowstorm and very cold temperatures, she ran 68 miles and gained national attention to adoption and foster parenting.

Since then, the annual run that’s held on National Adoption Day has turned into a relay. This year, runners could sign up for one or more of the 25 legs that started in Massena and headed through Hogansburg, North Lawrence, Brasher Falls, Potsdam, Canton, Ogdensburg, Waddington and back to Massena. Each leg represented about five miles and took an hour to complete.

“We run 125 miles representing the 125,000 kids that are currently freed in the U.S. waiting to be adopted right now,” Mr. Hurlbut said. “The runners from each leg pass a baton onto the runners of the next leg starting at 3 p.m. Friday and finishing at 3 p.m. on Saturday, National Adoption Day.”

While many runners took to the streets to complete one of the legs, he said, others participated virtually and ran a leg of their choosing in the area.

“Our heart is to simply raise awareness of the kids in our country who need a forever family,” Mr. Hurlbut said. “We’ve had dozens of stories now over the last four years of people signing up for foster care and adoption after being inspired by our story and the stories of families we highlight during the run.”

A coalition of national partners — the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, Alliance for Children’s Rights and Children’s Action Network — founded National Adoption Day and, on Nov. 18, 2000, the coalition and the Freddie Mac Foundation encouraged nine cities to open their courts on or around the Saturday before Thanksgiving to finalize and celebrate adoptions from foster care.

The first National Adoption Day was inspired by the efforts of Michael Nash, a former presiding judge of Los Angeles County Juvenile Court. He opened the court on Saturdays, engaged the volunteer efforts of court personnel and finalized adoptions to reduce the backlog of one of the busiest courts in the nation.

Now, the annual event is held in 400 cities across the United States.

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