On April 2, Sunrise Vice President of Marketing and Advancement Rick Burslem began a 153-mile trek across the state to raise awareness about Kentucky’s foster kids and the work of Sunrise Children’s Services. Starting in Bronston with Sunrise’s Cumberland Adventure Program, Rick passed by all five of Sunrise’s residential treatment centers, finishing up at Glen Dale Center in Elizabethtown on April 24.
Along the way, Rick shared his support of Sunrise staff members, reported the great work that is happening through Sunrise in Kentucky and raised necessary funds that are so needed during our “new normal” in the midst of the coronavirus. In fact, through his efforts, Rick was able to raise more than $100,000 for our agency.
But with all the attention that Rick received, he was the first to proclaim that it was not about him at all. “I’m walking for you guys,” Rick shared with the boys who live at Spring Meadows Center in Mount Washington. “This is about you. We’ve got some incredible kids. You are incredible. You have a future.”
It truly is love for hurting children that compelled Rick to undertake this walk. “When you think of 10,000 kids in out-of-home care in Kentucky,” Rick began, “you realize that it is an epidemic of brokenness and broken homes. And it’s not right. As much as we feel and bear the weight of the coronavirus, my heart is that people will feel and bear the weight of the brokenness of families.”
Rick’s desire is that somehow this walk might help people move from indifference and even sympathy to compassion. “That’s the message: Jesus moved with compassion,” Rick explained, “so, compassion really is the heart of this thing. We have compassion certainly for those suffering from COVID-19. And that’s obvious. But these kids (in foster care) are not behind the ICU curtain. They’re behind the veil of brokenness. That’s something we’ve got to be aware of. Sunrise in one sense is an ICU for these kids. We’ve got to help these kids get better, and we need more foster parents. This is an epidemic. Ten thousand kids are a lot. We need everybody to have compassion.”
Rick’s own compassion led him to pray for Sunrise kids during his 153-mile walk. Before his walk began, he was given the first names of every boy and girl currently living in one of Sunrise’s residential facilities. He spent time along the way praying for each child by name.
When asked what exactly he prayed for, he quickly answered. “That’s simple,” Rick said. “I prayed that they know that they’re loved, that they know that they can have hope in Christ and that they have a positive future.”
David Lyninger is Sunrise associate director of communications.