Each step brought a child in foster care closer to their forever family.

Older children and teens in Los Angeles County foster care got a chance to hike at the beautiful Kenneth Hahn Park on a perfect day last Saturday. They also met people who support their desire for a life-long connection to a stable, loving family, parent, or mentor.

It was more than a hike. It was a chance for matches to be made between children and potential hosts—caring adults who commit to serving as a support system, champion, and who could become their adoptive parents.

“Hike With Your Heart” is an annual event that brings together kids in the Los Angeles County foster care system and adults with open hearts who want to get to know them.

It’s also a kind of family reunion – with families who have gotten to know and adopted children through Kidsave’s program over the years. It’s a day to relax, play outdoors, hike at a park with spectacular views of Los Angeles, and feel the warmth and potential connection of new friends as they get to know each other during a leisurely hike.

Kidsave’s Weekend Miracles program has brought people together for decades now and created families in the process. The ripple effect was evident at this hike, where families who have already connected with kids laugh and play with kids, prospective parents, and mentors who seek those connections. The camaraderie is vibrant and catching! Here, great breakfast and lunch, and the chance to be outdoors in a warm and loving environment is fun and emotionally fulfilling. It has another advantage for the kids in foster care. They all get to return home with their choice of a pair of trendy new sneakers and backpacks!

The hike in LA also allowed us to catch up with one of our families who’ve recently finalized an adoption! Joshua, who was in our Weekend Miracles program in LA and was featured in the A&E show The Day I Met My Parents, was recently adopted by Susan. Looking back on his time at Kidsave events, he remembered meeting Susan “at a casual Kidsave event” and connecting with her instantly. Susan felt the same. Joshua fondly remembered looking for her at each of the Kidsave events he attended. He said, “if she wasn’t there… I would always circle her on the list of parents, or I’d draw her in as a stick figure and circle it.”

There’s always an opportunity to form a meaningful connection with a kid in foster care at our events. You truly never know when it can happen! Catching up with families like Joshua and Susan, hearing their stories, and seeing their smiles, always reminds us of that. As attendees made their way through the hike, there were many conversations and laughs being shared. Perhaps, a new connection was formed!

This year, for the first time, Kidsave also held a nationwide hike a week earlier so that friends everywhere could participate, form their teams, and raise funds with friends for Kidsave’s work. They hiked in local parks or just their neighborhood. Thanks to modern technology, attendees from around the country connected virtually for an hour during the hike using an app! The app enabled them to upload photos from their hikes and chat – almost like being in person.

Foster youth deserve and need the love and guidance of a stable, responsible, and committed adult to help them succeed in life and feel hope in their future. Kidsave is working to help more kids growing up alone to make those connections and find the love and hope missing in their young lives.