Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta


Annual Run Helps Catholic Charities Help Children

Published September 21, 2006

Damijal, a 17-year-old Croatian refugee, underwent a kidney transplant, and Catholic Charities Immigration Services helped his parents file for citizenship so that he will automatically become a citizen before he becomes 18, which will allow him to receive life-saving anti-rejection medication. And Kayla is a 16-year-old from Jamaica whose mother died and father molested her and is now in prison. Catholic Charities filed a special immigrant juvenile case petition on her behalf.

This year Immigration Services of the Archdiocese of Atlanta has prepared or consulted on 11 cases of children in custody and is in the process of filing petitions on their behalf. These children have been abused, abandoned or neglected and need legal status or asylum to stay in the United States, and along with many others desperately need Catholic Charities help for survival. In order to benefit its Children’s Project, Catholic Charities Immigration Services is sponsoring the 5th Annual Scott’s Memorial 5K Run and 1-mile Walk, Saturday, Oct. 28, at the Carter Center, 441 Freedom Parkway, NE, Atlanta.

Check-in starts at 7 a.m. including for walk-in registration, and the run and walk start at 8 a.m. This is a fun, family-friendly event for any age. Registration is $25 per person, for runners, walkers and phantom runners. All participants will receive T-shirt at race day. (T-shirts will be mailed to phantom runners and 100 Club members.)

Those interested can sign up individually or participate by being a team captain and recruiting a team of friends, family, and co-workers, who can be runners, walkers and phantom runners (who don’t actually participate in the race). Participants who donate $100 or more will become a member of the 100 Club, and will be recognized during the event.

The Mei Mei Trophy will be awarded to the winner of the 5K Run. Certificates will be presented to the first-, second- and third-place winners in men’s, women’s and children’s divisions. The Spirit Award will be awarded to the largest team present and the team who raised the most money.

The master of ceremonies will be Sen. Sam Zamarippa. Major sponsors include Troutman Sanders LLP and Kuck, Casablanca & Howard, LLC. Other sponsors include Brasfield & Gorrie LLC, Ogletree, Deakins, Smoak & Stewart, PC, Smith, Gambrell & Russell, LLP, Antonini, Odom & Sullivan, LLC, and Banta Immigration Law LTD.

The race was created in honor of Scott Starratt, a Marietta native and officer of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (now called the Office of Homeland Security) who stood out among his peers for his kindness and compassion for these foreign children who ended up in detention. Starratt died in a car accident in 2001.

Each year over 5,000 foreign children without visas or proper legal papers are smuggled into the United States as victims of abuse, abandonment, trafficking, and prostitution, and most end up in U.S. custody and are placed in detention centers.

All race proceeds go to the Children’s Project, which represents some of these children found in or sent to Atlanta.

Another child Immigration Services helped is a Chinese girl named Mei Mei whose parents sold her to smugglers as a slave and prostitute. She and other children were discovered off the California coast in a small boat, and Mei was sent to Atlanta where Catholic Charities staff and a volunteer attorney represented her and helped her gain legal status. Placed with foster parents, she finished high school and is now enrolled in college, still living in Atlanta. The winner’s Mei Mei Trophy is in honor of children like her. Currently the program has accepted over 30 juvenile cases, most involving children in removal proceedings since January 2006.

To register visit and register online (credit card only). One can also make an additional donation to Catholic Charities this way. Persons may also visit the Web site and download the application to mail it along with a check (made out to Catholic Charities) to: Catholic Charities, 680 West Peachtree Street, NW Atlanta GA 30308.


For sponsorship and other information, contact Catholic Charities development director Barbara Dobson at (404) 885-7474 or For race information call (404) 881-6571.