RACE funds local adoptions
by Sarah Fay Campbell
When Kelly and Jason Preston were seeking ways to offset the costs of adopting a daughter from China, a charity run was the obvious choice.
They had met on the track team at Samford University, and running was always an important part of their lives.
“We just really wanted to combine our passion for running with our passion for adoption and caring for orphans,” Kelly said.
And the RACE for the Orphans was born. RACE stands for “raising awareness, compassion, education.”
The original event was a success. “Never in a million years did we think we would have nearly 400 participants,” Kelly said. “It was just such a fun-filled, family day. Every single participant is part of our daughter’s story. Without their support and help, we would not have raised that money."
The Prestons brought their daughter Jenna home in November. Now, the second annual event will help other families who are working toward adoption. Kelly said that they decided to make it an ongoing event even before the first race was held.
“If we could do this full-time, we would like to do this throughout the country,” she said.
“It is just amazing to see how God has worked in our lives through this process of adoption, so we want to help these other families.”
The event will be held Saturday at the Coweta County Fairgrounds. There will be a 5K, a one-mile fun run, and a quarter-mile “tot trot.” The entire course will be on the fairgrounds property, said Preston. There will be chip timing for the 5K.
Registration is $25 for the 5K, $20 for the fun run and $15 for the tot trot. You can register online through Thursday, or on the morning of the race, starting at 7:30 a.m. Early packet pickup will be at the Newnan Chick-fil-A Dwarf House on Friday from 4 to 8 p.m.
Visit www.racefortheorphans.weebly.com for more information or for online registration.
Preston and Brenda Clifton worked to start the Orphans Ministry at Newnan First Baptist Church. Ten percent of race proceeds will go back into the ministry.
The beneficiaries of this year’s race will be Drew and Ashley Karschner of Sharpsburg and Daniel and Sherri Ausbun of Moreland.
In choosing families, Preston decided to work with Lifeline Children’s Services, the adoption agency they worked with to adopt Jenna, and Life Song for Orphans.
Working with Lifeline, the Prestons identified 12 families in Coweta and surrounding counties. Five of those families identified applied for funding. A committee made up of members of the FBC ministry reviewed applications and unanimously chose the Karschners and Ausbuns.
Drew Karschner is a youth pastor at Crossroads Church and Ashley is a nurse at Cancer Treatment Centers of America at Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Newnan. After nearly two years of trying to conceive a child, they decided to pursue adoption. They are planning to adopt a boy under age 2 from Ethiopia.
In December, they got the call that their paperwork had arrived in Ethiopia. And two weeks later, on Christmas Eve, Ashley found out she was pregnant.
“We didn’t know that would ever happen for us,” Ashley said. “We are expecting a little girl in August.”
They’re still going through with the adoption, and “our agency has been wonderful. They’re not taking us off the waiting list or making us stop or putting anything on hold,” Ashley said. “So, hopefully, we’ll have two kids in the next one to two years.”
The Ausbuns have three biological children. Their youngest, Benjamin, was a twin. When Sherri was about 10 weeks pregnant, they discovered they had lost one of the twins, and an ultrasound showed Benjamin was missing his stomach.
They held a prayer service and prayed for their son to be born healthy. “We told God we will be done having children biologically if you will let him be born healthy,” Sherri said.
They named him Benjamin, after the youngest son of Jacob, to indicate he would be their last biological child.
But after Benjamin was born, Sherri told her husband, who is pastor at Moreland First Baptist Church, that she had “really been thinking about adoption.”
“He said, ‘I have, too. Have you been thinking China?’”
She had been. “God really laid it on both our hearts,” Sherri said.
Sherri said one reason they were drawn to China was because of the conditions there. “In an orphanage, there are normally 20 children in the care of one nanny,” she said. In China, when a child is 14, “they age out of the orphanage system and they are placed on the street,” she said.
The city where Esther was born, Guangzhou, is a hub for child prostitution, Sherri said. Many of the children who age out of the orphanages end up in that life. “Especially if they are disabled like that,” Sherri said. “It is just really sad… that was why we were just really pulled to China.”
Their adoption is almost complete. “We hope to travel the second week of June,” she said.
Their daughter has bilateral hip dysplasia and bilateral club feet. Her name is Maio, and they plan to name her Esther Maio, because Queen Esther was brave, courageous and strong.
Her birthday is just five days after Benjamin’s.
“God spoke to us in so many different ways, telling us that she was our child,” Sherri said. “It’s definitely not coincidence.”