Megaphones to Superheroes: A brief history of the CASA 5K

Sep 12 2012

By Super Girl, aka Lissa Adams

It’s hard to believe that this year marks the seventh 5K run for CASA of Travis County! It all started with the inaugural “Speak Up for Kids” 5K series, which evolved over the years into the “CASA Superhero Run.”

I vividly remember the first race day on June 4th, 2006. Despite the June heat and humidity, more than 450 avid runners, first time race contestants and children of all ages lined up in downtown Austin for the 5K and Kids 1K races. Many of the runners dressed up for the “Wildest Hair” contest, while others waited to have their hair decorated by the Texas Roller Girls, enjoyed face painting and arts & craft activities, petted the horses from the APD mounted patrol and indulged in a plethora of food, beverages and tunes. Various mascots and volunteers with megaphones lined the race route cheering for and encouraging race participants. The day was full of energy and enthusiasm – and no one melted!

Speak up for Kids CASA 5K, 2008

As a member of the CASA 5K event committee for the last seven years and a “runner” who has dressed as everything from Mighty Mouse to She-Ra, I have witnessed some amazing transformations of the event. The Speak Up for Kids theme continued when we moved the race to the Domain in 2007 – in September! I loved this new location because the change in venue allowed us to add many more activities, including a bounce house, obstacle course, massage therapists and local business vendors. And who doesn’t like free parking?! 2008 was a stellar year for the race! We added a healthy living component with fresh healthy foods and fitness services. We also made the event “green” with reduced waste and electronic race packets, and made individual fundraising possible for participants, resulting in more than $8,000 in additional revenue!

Registrations almost doubled in 2009! But the most influential change came in 2010 when CASA of Travis County partnered with The Superhero Foundation in the race against child abuse and neglect, which truly transformed the race and increased attendance. The event was renamed the CASA Superhero Run with the theme “Every child needs a hero, but abused children need superheroes!” Since then, race participants, volunteers and spectators have fun dressing up as their favorite superhero, drawing attention and awareness for CASA like never before. Green Lantern, Storm Troopers, Wonder Woman and dozens more superheroes were represented. Instead of megaphones, the spirit volunteers lined the race route in costume, cheering and holding signs that read Boom, Pow and Shazam! The new theme even influences the event activities. We now have a photobooth where people can take pictures in their costumes, superhero activities, free comic books and costume contests (for people and dogs)!  

CASA Superhero Run, Austin, Sept 30 2012

I am continually amazed by the increased crowds each year (from 470 in 2006 to 1350 in 2011) and the creative costumes, as well as the tiny tikes and 70+ year old master runners who truly show the diversity of CASA. CASA volunteers come from every walk of life to speak up for kids in an overburdened child welfare system. As I think about the upcoming CASA Superhero Run, I think about how the transformation of the race over the years relates to the transformation that CASA makes in the lives of abused and neglected children in our community. The progress and success of events like the CASA Superhero Run increases awareness and funds that in turn increase the number of children whose lives are transformed. For 2012, we are joining forces with CASA of Williamson County to gather all superheroes at our new location at Mueller Lake Park & Hangar. It’s not too late to be a superhero! Register or donate today!