Annual Foster5K Benefiting Local Foster Children Goes Virtual

CONTACT: Debbie Crouse |

Milpitas, CAFoster5K (formerly The Flower Run) is going virtual on Sunday, September 13 for its 4th annual benefit 5K. Originally planned for April 26, 2020 at Sunnyvale Baylands Park, the Foster5K was postponed due to COVID-19 related shelter-in-place orders issued by the County of Santa Clara.

Hosted by a group of philanthropically minded residents from across Santa Clara County, Foster 5K was created to raise awareness and funds for Child Advocates of Silicon Valley, an independent nonprofit 501(c) 3 organization serving foster children in Santa Clara County.

With the uncertainty surrounding the hosting of large gatherings, the Foster5K committee thought it best to pivot to a virtual event. Co-Chair of the event, Joy Erf (an avid runner with 70 races to her name, including 9 marathons) shared, “We are encouraging family and socially distanced friend groups to sign up, using this as a time to support foster children while getting a much-needed shot of good spirits and comradery.”

Encouraging walkers and runners to complete their 5K on September 13, 2020 by running or walking wherever they want, the Foster 5K committee is intent on making the virtual event fun for everyone. Entries include a Foster5K shirt (must register by August 29), goodie bags, pre-run yoga in the morning and a Zoom Finish Party at 4pm on Sept. 13.

“We’re very proud of our Finish Party,” shared co-chair Joy Erf. “We had big plans for live music, refreshments and booths. The team is keeping the spirit with the Zoom finish party featuring our usual raffle, a photo contest and prizes for the largest team to check in. We will also continue to encourage participants to dress festively and post photos.

The last Foster5k attracted over 250 participants and raised over $16,000. The event began 4 years ago in Los Altos but moved to Sunnyvale Baylands Park in 2018 to accommodate its growth.

Foster5K Co-Chair and Child Advocates Board Member, Debbie Crouse says this year’s goal was to surpass 350 participants. Now they hope to get 200 signups. “We are doing everything we can to promote the 5K. The impact of sheltering-in-place has been even more dramatic for children in foster care. They’ve already been through personal trauma and now have the stress of this pandemic. Something as simple as having a laptop for remote school is a huge challenge.”

Despite having closed their stores this spring, A Runner’s Mind continues to be an event partner. They will host packet pickup at their Los Altos store (378 Main Street, Los Altos) and donate 15% of all sales made on Saturday, September 12 to Child Advocates. They donated over $800 last year.

Eileen Urtz, General Manager of A Runner’s Mind said, “A Runner’s Mind is excited to partner with the Foster5K again this year. Events like this inspire people to get outside and move while also raising awareness and funds for a great cause! Something we all need more than ever.”

The event already has a great lineup of event sponsors: BMC (an IT management services company) and Patelco Credit Union’s Sunnyvale branch are headlining as Gold Sponsors; The Nuzzo Team of Sereno Real Estate Group, and A Runner’s Mind are Silver Sponsors; Dish Dash Middle Eastern Cuisine, Elva Acevedo of Century 21 Real Estate and Andy Wong, of Sereno Real Estate Group are Bronze Sponsors. In addition, there are many local businesses donating cash, goods and services.

“I am extremely overjoyed by the support Foster5K receives from our sponsors,” shared Crouse, “their financial support allows the committee members and I to do what we love – to share the story of foster children widely – and they get to give back to the community through their passion for helping others.”

“We are thrilled that the community continues to show up for our foster children by participating in Foster5K,” said Frederick J. Ferrer, CEO of Child Advocates of Silicon Valley. “The children we serve are some of the most vulnerable in our community. The support we receive from this race helps us provide them with the support and resources needed to thrive, especially during this pandemic.”

In fiscal year 2019, Child Advocates served 964 foster children through its Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) Program, which recruits, trains and supports community members who are appointed with a court order by a judge to advocate for the best interests of a child in foster care. The majority of the funds raised to support these efforts are through donations. “Our ability to serve so many children is only made possible by the generosity of our donors and our volunteers,” says Ferrer. “We are extremely grateful for the financial support and visibility Foster5K brings to Child Advocates. This kind of community support increases our ability to serve more children more meaningfully.”

To sign up for Foster5K, donate or become a sponsor, please visit

About Debbie Crouse, Foster5K Co-Chair
Debbie Crouse is a long-time resident of Los Altos and brings a wealth of business experience to Child Advocates’ Board of Directors. She has been driving change within technology, service and manufacturing businesses for over 20 years. She currently spends much of her time leading fundraising projects for non-profits and consulting for local tech companies. She has been on the Board of Child Advocates of Silicon Valley for 4 years and is on the Board of Advisors for Animal Assisted Happiness.

About Joy Erf, Foster 5K Co-Chair
Joy Erf, a resident of Cupertino and technical recruiter, found her passion for distance running over 10 years ago when she began training for her first half marathon. Since then, she has completed nine marathons and over 60 half marathons. Joy has provided leadership to other local 5ks including the Montclaire 5k, CEEF Run For Great Schools, and Kennedy Color Run.

About Child Advocates of Silicon Valley
Child Advocates of Silicon Valley is an independent nonprofit 501(c) 3 organization created in 1986. We serve children aged birth to 21 years old who are placed in the Santa Clara County Dependency Court System for having experienced trauma in the form of abuse, neglect and/or abandonment. We are responsible for operating the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program in Santa Clara County according to the national guidelines, which entails recruiting, training and supporting CASA Volunteers. We are an affiliate of the National CASA Association. To learn more, please visit