A North Texas woman who spent years in the foster care system created a foundation to help fellow foster children -- and Saturday in DeSoto it held its first annual Child Abuse Awareness walk.
Vallery Mitchell, 27, once walked in the shoes of the foster kids she now mentors as part of her Fostering Dreams Foundation.
Some of the kids attended Saturday’s event DeSoto's Zeigler Park.
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Mitchell said she overcame struggles and being bounced from home to home during her time in foster care.
“I did experience some trauma. I was placed on five different psychiatric medications, and I was sexually assaulted,” she said.
When she was 5 years old, she found her forever home with the Mitchell family.
Her mother, Cassandra Mitchell, said Vallery always had a big heart.
“She wished that we had a bigger home where we could get more kids. She said, ‘I want to help kids,’” Cassandra Mitchell said.
Saturday’s walk helped raise money for the Fostering Dreams Foundation.
“Participants will be able to walk the trail and read stories of successful foster youth, and they’ll also be able to read about youth that have inspired child abuse laws,” Vallery Mitchell said.
DeSoto Mayor Rachel Proctor delivered a keynote speech at the event, to acknowledge Mitchell's work and to inspire foster kids who attended.
Helen Rhodes is a former foster child turned foster mom who attended the event.
“I think this is one of the better things that anyone has done, and believe you and me. Some of them are old enough to understand, 'This is for me because I am special,'” Rhodes said.
Mitchell said she wanted every child in her foundation to feel special.
The Fostering Dreams Foundation holds outings and events for foster kids to enjoy for free.
It serves between 100 and 125 children each year across North Texas.