When a franchise location with Chick-fil-A is purchased, one of the prominent features of the corporate culture that shows up in the local store is a strong emphasis on giving back to the community. Every year, each franchise owner (in our case, Matthew Kyle of the 1291 Hwy 72 E location in Athens,) picks a charity event to sponsor. For the third year running, (pardon the pun,) the charity of choice is Bridge of Hope Adoption Ministry, and on April 12th at 8 am you’ll get your chance to give them a hand through the use of your feet!
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Bridge of Hope Adoption Ministry was started in 2008 here in Athens. The purpose of the organization is to provide financial, emotional, spiritual and practical support for families who are in the process of adopting children, whether in the States or abroad. Foreign adoptions are especially challenging in every regard. It is not at all uncommon for a foreign adoption to cost up to 30 thousand dollars, sometimes excluding travel. Several of the founders of Bridge of Hope have been involved in both foreign and domestic adoptions, have persevered through the sometimes daunting process, and want to be of great help to those who feel the high calling of becoming what is known as a “forever family” to a child in need. One such case was a local grandmother who needed $500 to adopt her grandchild. To date, Bridge of Hope has helped 39 local families with donations of various amounts. If you are interested either in adopting or helping those who wish to, please visit www.bohadoptionministry.com. There are a number of support families who have already successfully adopted, and who stand ready to help you. 2014-03-07_14-12-51I met with Steve Cundiff (at Chick-fil-A, of course) whose family adopted Bonnie from China ten years ago. He is one of the founders of Bridge of Hope, and he and his wife have three biological children. Extraordinarily difficult pregnancies caused them to conclude that while they were finished with giving birth, they were by no means finished with becoming parents. Bonnie’s Chinese name was Zhou Xian Xian, and her American name is Bonnie Louise Xian. She became a Cundiff at the age of 10 months. Steve says, “Because of her adoption, Bonnie has been afforded many opportunities she would otherwise not have had, the most important of which is having a relationship with God and a ‘forever family’.” Steve is a financial advisor for Edward Jones, and his company donated five thousand dollars toward Bonnie’s adoption. “It made a huge difference,” he told me, which is one of the reasons why he has stayed involved with Bridge of Hope so that he can help. While on the trip to China to get Bonnie, English speaking strangers would come up to them and say, “Lucky baby, lucky baby.” “But really,” he said, “We are the lucky ones. We as Christians understand the spirit of adoption.” Interestingly, it is common in Alabama for parents who have adopted children from foreign countries to have a “re-adoption ceremony,” where they are issued an Alabama birth certificate, and all the privileges of being a citizen of the State of Alabama are conferred upon them. It gives them something to remember and be proud of. This year there are a number of sponsors in addition to our Chick-fil-A who are pulling together to hopefully raise $20K for the event. They include, but are not confined to, Dr. Alan Coleman of Coleman Dental, Dr. Chad Davis of Davis Optical, Dr. Jason Reed, Jimmy Smith Infiniti, Athens Pharmacy, Jennifer Morrison of Advocare, Steelcase, and others. So, on to the particulars of the event. For more information on the race or to register online, you can go to www.active.com/athens-al/running/distance-running-races/10k-5k-1-mile-chick-fil-a-connect-race-series-athens-al-2014, or to Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Chick-fil-A-of-Athens-AL/174091231851. You can also register at the Chick-fil-A store, which is located at 1291 Hwy 72 E right across from Starbucks. The race will start at 8 am on April 12th from the Wellness Center on Fitness Way in Athens. It costs $20 to enter, which includes the cost of the T-shirt. Each runner will get a shirt, provided they register by April 7th. Late registration up until the day before the race is $30, and there is no guarantee of getting a shirt. . All participants under the age of 19 need their parent or guardian’s signature on the registration form in order to participate.
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Race split times will be called on each mile. (A split time is somewhat like having a pace car that helps the runner/walker to know what they need to do to keep up and finish the race within a standard course time.) There will also be aid stations at the beginning, middle and end of the racecourse, a welcome comfort, as even April weather in Athens can be pretty warm. As always, Chick-fil-A will be awarding a number of prizes for each age group, and would love to invite all of Athens to come to the 5K and experience the blessing of being part of the “bridge” that brings hope. By: Ali Elizabeth Turner

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