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Friday, September 30, 2022
Home Ages and Stages Elementary School Child Runs for Believe in Tomorrow Foundation

Child Runs for Believe in Tomorrow Foundation

When Alex Van Valkenburgh wants to raise money for the Believe in Tomorrow Foundation, he takes to the streets. In a pair of running shoes.  “It’s the only sport I’m really good at,” the 10-year-old says bashfully. 

Alex got involved in raising money for the Believe in Tomorrow Foundation, a Baltimore-based charity that provides housing for families with critically ill children. While he used to volunteer at the Believe in Tomorrow Foundation, doing activities with the kids, he decided that he could use his feet to raise both awareness and money. And when he met Chloe, a three-year-old with both Down Syndrome and leukemia, running took on a whole new meaning.

So in 2009 he ran the Port to Fort 6K race in Baltimore, which benefits the Believe in Tomorrow Foundation. “I said, hey, there’s this race that goes to Fort McHenry and back again,” says his mom, Chris. “When we got to the actual race itself and he met Chloe, Alex just absolutely fell in love with her. He said ‘I want to run for Chloe because she can’t run for herself.’”

alexAlex has since become a regular participant in area races, running the Zooma Annapolis 10K in June and the Fathers Day Run in Severna Park, as well as the Fort McHenry Tunnel 5K for the Special Olympics and the Patuxent Research Refuge 5K, where he finished first in the 19 and under category.

But it seems that running is meant to be a family affair: his six-year-old sister Bridgette will join him in the next Port to Fort Race. The Believe in Tomorrow Foundation has special meaning for the family—the organization gives priority to military members, and Alex’s dad is a cancer survivor who’s currently on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan (he’s expected to arrive home in mid-November, just in time for Alex’s 11th birthday.)

Alex trains with the Baltimore Blazers, a youth running league. While finding shorter races for Alex to run is easy, longer distances are a problem. Alex wants to do a marathon, but most marathons have age restrictions that don’t permit someone who’s six years away from his driver’s license to compete. So for the foreseeable future, he’ll have to stay with smaller distances.

Alex has a Facebook fan page (just search “Super Van” to “like” his page) where he raises awareness and money. But if you want to see him at his happiest, just go to one of his races and watch for the 54-inch blonde streak going by. Don’t blink—you might miss him.

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