The CASA Light of Hope breakfast and lunch fundraisers have become an annual tradition for supporters from across the area, this 17th year drawing almost 1,300 people to The Antlers on April 26. They donated $350,000 for CASA programs (casappr.org) and to "Light Up Their Skies" of abused and neglected children by training more volunteers appointed by the court to advocate for them.
Almost 1,800 children were served last year - over 14,000 children in El Paso and Teller counties since 1989.
The special part of each Light of Hope is a tears-down-the-cheeks story of one of those children. Collin is 17, but his story goes back to when he was 6. His mother was an addict who died of an overdose. He and his sister were bounced from foster home to foster home: "Go grab your pillow, you're moving." Thirteen placements in all. A couple of times he thought he was being adopted but folks changed their minds. Then, an adoption, but just for his sister and not Collin.
CASA advocate Karen Hilborn was the sole constant in his life. When Collin was 15, Hilborn worked with CASA's Lifelong Links to see if there was anyone anywhere for him. They discovered relatives on his father's side who were unaware Collin existed. He visited several times and an aunt and uncle asked if he would consider staying with them permanently.
"I consider it a privilege to have Collin in my life," the uncle said in the day's video. "I wish it could have happened years ago."
For Collin, who smiles a lot now, "love is a foreign feeling for me." The tearful aunt and uncle traveled with Collin to tell his story at Light of Hope.