Meet the 2019 SMART5.29K Run/Walk Ambassador Family

Mar 19 2019

My wife and I had always wanted to foster/adopt a child, and in late 2016 we started our home study process to open our home for as many as two children or even a sibling group. On August 15th of 2017, our home finder contacted me in regards to a set of three siblings who were in need of immediate placement into a different foster home. After discussion with my wife, we said “Yes!” and began prepping our house for their arrival the following afternoon. As our family rapidly grew over the course of those 22 hours between initial phone call and them walking up our drive, so did our family needs. We quickly found ourselves shopping for a new family vehicle and a bigger house on a safer street. It did not take long for us to decide that we could not let these three precious children go and pursuing adoption was our only option.

The Todd’s newly adopted children, Nichole, Audrey, and Laken were awarded SMART529 College Savings Accounts at the 2018 Smart Start Awards.

Within a day or two of finalizing the adoption, my wife informed me of the SMART529 Smart Start Award. After learning about the program, I quickly began filling out the application and writing the required essay. The deadline of October 1st was fast approaching and our adoption had only been finalized on September 26th. Higher education is something both my wife and I believe to be very important. It opens the door to countless possibilities that potentially would not be available otherwise. College doesn’t just expand your mind scholastically, it helps you gain world experiences, interpersonal connections, and gives you an expanded realization of self. In fact, the only major setback of attaining a college degree is the student loan debt that often accompanies it. As the expense of higher education continues to rise at a drastic rate, the only real defense against student loan debt other than scholarships and grants has become strategic savings and preparation. The key to saving for college is to start early and let interest do the work for you. Albert Einstein once said, “compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world.” I could not agree more.

Having the honor of receiving the Smart Start Award for each of my children means they are getting a jump start on their education. With regular contributions from “Mom and Dad’s” checking account along the way, each of them will have a head start on their college savings, hopefully allowing them to attain a bachelor’s degree while attending a state program and staying debt/ loan free. Simply put, the Smart Start Award granted to each of these three precious children is a fantastic gift. It helps erase some of their traumatic past by helping to build a solid foundation in their future.

Being a new parent, I have the opportunity to learn from my kids as much as they can learn from me. The one thing I have come to be certain of in this process is that kids are resilient. Having a past full of hopelessness does not hold them back. Given the chance to stretch their wings, children will soar. Through foster care and into adoption, my children have grown comfortable with us, and comfortable in their own skin. They have begun to stretch their wings and all I can do as their father is try my best to teach them how to fly and guide them along the way. The Smart Start Award has helped me raise the starting point of their trajectory so they will be able to fly higher and farther than they could have ever dreamed of in their previous life. Thank you for bestowing this honor on my family. We are eternally grateful and feel truly blessed.

The 2019 SMART5.29K Run/Walk is being held Saturday, May 18 at Appalachian Power Park in downtown Charleston. All proceeds from this event are used to fund SMART529 College Savings Plan for children recently adopted out of the foster care system in West Virginia. The event kicks off with a Kids Fun Run at 8:45 a.m., immediately followed by the 5.29K. Register today to show your support and help Fund the Future for Adopted Foster Children.

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