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Pouches' Community Corner

Team River Runner

Pouches Learns About the Power of Play


Healing PTSD can be a challenge for veterans of Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam. In Fredericksburg, Lance Sharp, Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator for Team River Runner, has launched a local chapter of Team River Runner to make water sports on Fredericksburg’s beautiful Rappahannock River and nearby lakes available to anyone with a visible or invisible injury.

“We don’t turn anyone away,” says Sharp. “We have 35 vets paddling, kayaking and canoeing, along with 85 volunteers to assist them. We also take any nonmilitary with disabilities in the area.

“We do everything from casual paddling to experienced white water paddling. Many veterans especially enjoy the adrenaline rush from white water kayaking or paddling. We like to keep a 2-to-1 volunteer to participant ratio and we adapt to any physical or mental injury. The team meets once a month for open water exercises and three times a month at the pool at the Ron Rosner YMCA in Spotsylvania from 8:30 to noon.”

All equipment is free, funded by the VA, the national Team River Runner organization and local fundraising.

Team River Runner’s mission is to provide all veterans and their families an opportunity to find health, healing, community purpose, and new challenges through adventure and adaptive paddle sports.

For more information or to donate, contact Lance Sharp at 229-507-8787 or email at Fredericksburg This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please visit: and

"TRR has brought so much joy to my stay at Perry Point VA Medical Center! I found my love for Kayaking and being on the open water and having those few hours of serenity and fun to forget about my difficulties and disability!” —Jen McGowan

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Foster Care Adoption Can Make a Lifetime of Difference

What do you remember about your 18th birthday? A sense of freedom? A feeling that big things lay ahead?

What allowed many of us to dream big and pursue goals as young adults was the strong foundation that started with our families.

Simple things like knowing you had a table to sit down to at Thanksgiving, or someone to call in a time of crisis, provided the security to build a productive life.

A loving, permanent relationship with a parent is at the heart of that security, but right now, more than 700 children in Virginia are at risk of leaving childhood without this powerful benefit.

“Every single child deserves a loving, trusting adult in their life,” says Laura Ash-Brackley, chief programs officer for Children’s Home Society of Virginia.


Children’s Home Society works to build strong, permanent relationships for Virginia’s at-risk youth.

A major piece of that work is educating families about the realities of adopting children out of foster care before they age out of the system at 18 and supporting families who choose this path.

In Virginia, approximately 500 children age out of the foster care system each year. They start adult lives without knowing what a trusting, loving relationship with an adult looks like.

These children are at a much higher risk for incarceration, homelessness, substance abuse and domestic violence. Fewer than 1 in 6 of them will graduate from high school.

Finding a permanent family before a child’s 18th birthday can re-write that story.


Ash-Brackley makes clear that adopting pre-teen and teenaged children from foster care is very different from adopting a baby.

CHS’s programs help families honestly explore the process and equip them with skills, realistic expectations and the knowledge that a big part of their job will be adjusting to the unexpected.
The opportunity is tremendous.

“To be able to become that trusting parent of a child who has had all the other adults in their life fail them is an incredible thing,” Ash-Brackley said. “It’s amazing to see how kids change physically when they get into their forever families. They feel stable, they feel secure, they will grow several inches, their whole demeanor will change.”


For some, it can be a mindset shift to consider adopting a pre-teen or teen versus a younger child. Ash-Brackley encourages people to see the bigger picture.

“The time that you raise a child is relatively short,” she notes. “The time that your child is an adult and you’re still parenting is more of a lifetime. Even though you may not have been there for their first steps or their first tooth, you can be the first person to be in the audience for their high school awards ceremony.”

She points out that many people don’t consider adopting children out of foster care because they’ve been misinformed.

They may think it’s expensive, but adoption fees are low, and various funds, subsidies and tax credits can help offset the cost of a child’s care and college tuition.

They may think they need to own a home or be married, neither of which is required.
And while children who have been in foster care have experienced trauma, and do require a different parenting approach, the stereotype that foster kids are out of control is misguided.

CHS“These kids are in foster care through no fault of their own,” Ash-Brackley emphasizes.
CHS has experience helping families work through the challenges that can arise during and after the adoption process.

Ash-Brackley encourages families to learn more if they think adopting from foster care is a role they can play.

To get started call Children’s Home Society of Virginia at 804-353-0191.

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BE KIND at Home and Abroad

At Home: Kindness Day and Kids Fair

Pouches is looking forward to a KIND October. She will be attending the Kindness Day Pancake Breakfast, sponsored by the Spotsylvania Towne Centre, Great Steak Restaurant, Wiggle Worms, Fredericksburg Parent Magazine, and Unforgettable Moments Photography on Saturday, October 13 from 10 am to noon.

Parents can donate blood. For children, three pancakes, bacon and juice will be served for $5 (cash only). Al’s Pal’s, sponsored by Smart Beginnings Rappahannock, will put on a puppet show about kindness. Wiggle Worms will do a kindness reading, Fredericksburg Parent and Memorable Moments will take pictures and provide crafts. Email Fredericksburg Parent at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and let Pouches know how you were kind in October and she will share your story with Fredericksburg Parent.

Registration will be at the Customer Service Center at Spotsylvania Towne Centre, September 28-October 11.

Happy and Healthy Kids Fair
Saturday, October 20, 2018, 9:30am to 12:30 pm, the Children’s Museum Fredericksburg and Smart Beginnings will be giving out free t-shirts, door prizes and great resources and activities for parents and young children. Eagle Village Shopping Center, 1275 Jefferson Davis Highway. More information here.

Abroad: Prosthetics In Ecuador

Also in October, Pouches will be preparing to travel to Ibarra, Ecuador with the Rappahannock Rotary Club in November. The Rotary Club has been invited to visit the Ibarra Rotary Club’s Prosthetics for Life Foundation, a shop that focuses on providing prosthetics and orthotics to low-income community citizens. One of Pouches' best friends, Tabitha Van Doren, 21, uses orthotics to manage her neuromuscular disease. Tabitha and Pouches are collecting used orthotics to take to Ecuador to be refurbished for our Ecuadoran friends who need help walking. If you have old foot, leg, or knee braces you can donate, go to for further details on how to donate. The club also supports a program for children with learning disabilities and mental health issues, a retirement center for low income seniors and an orphanage for children with HIV/AIDS. For further information on the Rappahannock Rotary Club, go to


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Pouches' Community Corner: Awareness Walk and Book Signing Event

Brain Aneurysm Awareness Walk for Austen Dunn

Austen Dunn, 23, passed away suddenly from complications of a massive ruptured brain aneurysm on September 24, 2016. There were no outward signs that a brain aneurysm was present. Austen was a graduate of William and Mary who was planning to begin a PhD in psychology. She was interested in getting young children screened for mental illness early in life. She had a tattoo of timshel on her arm, from the book East of Eden, which translates as “thou mayest,” meaning one can choose whether or not to be a good person. She rescued a cat with major burns, Botetort, and a dog named Noah, after Ryan Gosling in“The Notebook” . Her senior research at W&M was on “communitas,” the bonding that occurs when a group of people go through an experience together.

One in 50 people will develop brain aneurysms during their lifetime.

Her parents, Stacy Horner-Dunn and Gary Dunn, have set up a “Communitas” walk for September’s Brain Aneurysm Awareness Month on Saturday, September 22, 2018 at Old Mill Park, 2201 Caroline Street, at 10 am. (Packet pickup 9 am) Everyone who has gone through a relative or friend suffering or dying from an aneurysm is invited to meet, walk and enjoy the music and food trucks at the pavilion.

“It’ll be a good day of not just walking, but spending time with people and creating communitas, says Horner-Dunn.

Register at

For more information: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Book Signing to Fight DIPG Pediatric Cancer

Diagnosed at 2 years of age, Moriah passed away from DIPG (Diffuse Instrinsic Pontine Glioma) an inoperable tumor on her brain stem, in 2013, two weeks before her fifth birthday. Her mother, Sharday Richardson, is the founder of the Forever Moriah Foundation, as well as the author of the children’s book, “The Sister I Never Met,” which is about a boy who tells his class during show-and-tell about the older sister he never knew.

“After Moriah passed, I went on to have two more children, my son Josiah who is now 3, and my daughter Faith who is now 2. While they know how to identify who Moriah is, there are really no platforms to help parents talk to younger children about the death of a sibling. One day, I’m going to have to explain it more, so I wrote this book to help.” The book is now available for purchase and all of the proceeds will go to the Forever Moriah Foundation. There will be a book signing at Jabberwocky, at 810 Caroline Street on September 22, 2018 from 12 to 2 pm.

Brain cancer is the number one cancer killer of children.

Richardson also provides parties for children who have completed treatment or are having a birthday after diagnosis. 


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Splash into Summer with Smart Beginnings Rappahannock Area


Looking for a fun way to cool down this summer? Look no further than the Smart Beginnings Rappahannock Area’s Splash event!

SBRA Trademarked Logo Full Color TaglineAccording to Executive Director Carol Clark, “[Smart Beginnings] currently provides support to over 150 programs in the VA Quality North Central region. These include Head Start, VPI, private preschools and day cares (for profit, non-profit & faith-based), and family home providers.” They are working hard to make sure that the children under 5 in our area have the support they need to excel now, which will continue to provide them the individual resources they need to launch into their adolescent years and beyond.

For the past seven years, Smart Beginnings has thrown the Splash Pool Party fundraiser. This summer, the event will be held on June 24, 2018* from 6:30-9:30 pm at the Steve & Cheri Thurston Water Park at the Massad Family YMCA. Tickets range in price from $12 for a single ticket, $20 for couples and $35 for a family/group of four and each ticket also covers a hot dog, bag of chips and a drink.

Splash includes: door prizes, music, food and, of course, swimming! All proceeds for this event benefit Smart Beginnings and you are able to purchase additional tickets for children in the community who might otherwise not be able to attend. These tickets will be distributed by Healthy Families Rappahannock Area, as well as many of the community partners in our region.

It’s a great time for a great cause! For additional information on how you can support Smart Beginnings or the Splash Pool Party, contact Carol Clark at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or buy your tickets online at

*Raindate: July 8, 2018

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