In 2010, we received a telephone call out of the blue asking us if a group called The Superhero Foundation could donate the proceeds of the Superhero Race to our CASA Program. The caller, Erica Burg, explained that she was a volunteer who, along with a group of committed community members like Bill Sneddon, David Barkovich and Melissa Mitro, had hosted a 5K race for a few years and they wanted the proceeds to go to an organization that fought child abuse. Would we be interested? Hearing their mission, “All kids need heroes but abused kids need superheroes” we felt it was a great opportunity and gave an enthusiastic ‘yes.’
The first race to benefit CASA occurred in 2011 with about 300 runners and at its height in 2016, we had 1,200 runners participate. Our race had activities for kids, a 1K fun run, laughter and competition, all kinds of weather including rain, sleet, snow and sun – even hosting a virtual race through COVID times, all to benefit our volunteers and their work with children over more than a decade.
Erica, along with her husband Chuck, donated so much time and talent to the race, and it was so successful because of their drive and dedication. When asked, Erica would share a story of what motivated her to volunteer for so long for the Superhero Race. She shared that a child she knew had been the victim of child abuse, and seeing his struggle, she never wanted any kid to experience the trauma of abuse and neglect. So, in honor of her late father’s love of running, she knew that hosting a race to benefit causes that fight child abuse was a way to honor her father’s memory while making a difference in her community.
After so many years of volunteering, Erica, who worked full-time throughout her tenure with Superhero, decided to step back from her volunteer duties. The departure of Erica left a huge void in our capacity to continue hosting the race in the way that it had occurred with Erica at the lead. So as an agency, we decided to work with WolfCreek Event Management, the host of several races, to continue the Superhero Race to benefit CASA of Allegheny County. The 2022 race was the first hosted by WolfCreek and we anticipate the race to continue for years to come.
But it is Erica Burg that is responsible for building and growing the race that ultimately hosted thousands of people and raised more than $600,000 for our CASA program. She is a true Superhero that selflessly gave of herself year in and year out to make the race a family-friendly, kid-focused experience that we have so much pride in. We are forever grateful for that phone call, the years of friendship and the impact that followed.