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Lola, left, and Ryan Rahn, Atkinson, stand by the kayak to be awarded to a participant in the 2019 Jordan Rahn Forever Young Run on Saturday, Aug. 24. The annual event is in memory of their son who died in 2013.

ATKINSON — Ryan and Lola Rahn have never stopped mourning the loss of their son, Jordan Rahn, but they have turned their loss into a way of helping children in foster care.

The annual Jordan Rahn Forever Young Run was born after their son died unexpectedly in October of 2013, at the age of 19, while playing football with friends.

Proceeds from the upcoming sixth annual run, in memory of their son, will be used to benefit children in foster care, including Foster Hope, which was founded by the Rahn couple in April of 2017.

The 2019 Jordan Rahn Forever Young Run is Saturday, Aug. 24, and is planned in conjunction with Atkinson Heritage Days (Friday, Aug. 23, and Saturday, Aug. 24). In addition to a kayak to be awarded to a race participant who is 18 years of age or older, there also will be bikes awarded to one boy and one girl who participate in the run and are 12 years old or younger.

Free family activities are planned in Veterans Park after the race, as well as a beer garden and live music at the post-race party, with music by Quad-City musicians — Jef Spradley Duo.

Lola Rahn said since the first Jordan Rahn Run was organized, she had heard comments from race participants about how they enjoyed the signs of encouragement along the race route.

“We are hoping for even more signs in this year’s race, and we are offering three cash prizes this year of $100, $75 and $50 to those people who display the most encouragement to runners and walkers,” she said.

Since it began in 2014, the run has raised $18,000 for Royal Family Kids Camp, purchased five Chrome Books for college-bound students in foster care and for the second year will award a scholarship for a middle student to attend a field trip to Washington, D.C.

Some of the funds from a previous race were used to pay for riding lessons at Sol’s Legacy, Rahn said. Sol’s Legacy, in rural Atkinson, is a program using horses to help children.

As a result of that first run, Rahn has been able to connect with several foster-care parents, and she and her husband started a foster-parent support group, Foster Hope, that meets at 6 p.m. on the fourth Monday of each month in Foster Hope offices located in the former Atkinson Grade School, 107 South State St.

Foster Hope is a 501-c3 nonprofit organization.

“Our mission is to educate, inspire and support the foster-care community," Rahn said. "Educate by providing a place for foster-parent trainings, including CPR classes; inspire by providing a place for our monthly support group meetings; support by being able to meet the immediate needs of a foster family after they receive a child in their home such as providing them with diapers, clothes, cribs and other necessary items.”

“The support we have received has allowed us to double Foster Hope space,” she said. “This additional space allows us to provide necessary items for teens that are aging out of foster care, and their needs include bedding, towels and pillows — everything they might need to begin independent living.”

“We now have a retail donor partnership with Bed Bath & Beyond in Davenport, and that has really helped us to support the teens that are going off to college or starting to live independently,” she said. “We periodically receive new items from the Davenport business that we can distribute through Foster Hope.”

Their own experiences led the Rahn couple to sponsor a memorial run in honor of their son and to use the funds raised from the event to help children in foster care.

“Jordan had a heart condition, Cardiomyopathy,” his mother said. “He was passionate about life, a fun-loving competitive-natured young man with a wonderful sense of humor that drew people to him.”

She said in his youth her son participated in several 5K/1-mile runs and also ran the Bix 7 when he was 9 years old.

“Perhaps what Jordan did best was to be an awesome big brother to the many foster children who were in our home through the years,” Rahn said. She and her husband have been foster parents for 27 years.”

“We have had over 50 foster children in our home, some only for a day or two and others for months or even years,” she said. “We are especially blessed to have adopted two of our five children from foster care.”

“The Jordan Rahn Forever Young Run is not just a run, it’s a ‘movement,’” she said. “When Ryan and I started foster parenting 27 years ago, we felt like we were the only foster parents in the area. It is great to see so many local young families answering the call to foster care and to help them get connected with each other. We are also passionate about raising awareness of the need for more foster homes.”

“Recently we held training for prospective foster care parents at Foster Hope in Atkinson, and I am happy to say there are now 12 new foster parents in Henry County.”

Rahn shared a quote she likes that states, “Not everyone can be a foster parent, but everyone can help a child in foster care.”

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