MEDFORD, Ore. -- Racers and community members ran or walked through downtown Medford for the 5th annual Ugly Sweater 5K, which will benefit the Jackson County Foster Parent Association. All proceeds from the race will go towards items kids need when entering a foster home like food, backpacks, school supplies and gifts for the holidays.
"Every child deserves a warm home with loving parents," said Dr. Lance West, owner of West Orthodontics and host of the 5k. "[Foster families] get some help from the state but there is more need specifically for the kids that are coming into their homes."
The is the fifth year the race has taken place in Medford but the second year West Orthodontics has hosted and it wants to keep the tradition of giving money to foster families alive. West says when the previous host left the Rogue Valley, he was motivated to keep the tradition going.
"I decided it was too good to fall between the cracks and I loved where the money was going. I decided that me and my family would adopt the race," said Dr. West
The race begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday, December 16th in downtown Medford near the intersection of Bartlett Street and 8th Street. Registration for the event has closed but community members are encouraged to come support runners and the Jackson County Foster Parent Association.
According to the Oregon state website's data on child welfare, more than 11,000 children spent at least one day in foster care in 2016. Also in 2016, more than 7,600 kids in Oregon are in foster care on a daily basis. And the JCFPA is hoping to not only raise funds for local kids but also recruit community members to become foster parents.
"They need more families," said Dr. West. "It's a problem nationally but especially here in our valley. More homes are needed for these kids to go to."