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Hogs' spring match plays host to kids' advocate.

SO YOU'LL BE HEADED UP FOR the Arkansas spring football game, right? Not a chance you are going to miss the official beginning of the Bobby Petrino era on April 26.

Maybe you plan to head up Interstate 40, stopping at Whattaburger in Russellville along the way. Perhaps you're making that scenic drive across the top of the state with a side trip planned to Devito's Restaurant in Harrison.

Wherever the trip begins and whatever stops are planned, nothing passes time on the road quite like great food and good conversation, and there will be plenty to talk about on the way to The Hill. So, as a public service, here are some Arkansas statistics to chew on as you make that drive to watch the Power Spread unveiled:

* A child is reported as abused or neglected every hour.

* A child is born into poverty every 59 minutes.

* A child dies before his first birthday every day.

* A child or teen is killed by gunfire every week.

* 2,952 children are in foster care; only 297 are adopted.

* 83,000 children do not have health insurance.

Weren't expecting stats of that sort, were you? Nothing ruins daydreaming of a Fayetteville football weekend quite like that dose of reality from ChampionsForKids.org.

Those are staggering numbers, especially in a state this size.

Here is the good news: You can help make a difference simply by enjoying the spring game and all its surrounding festivities.

That's where EAS RazorFest comes into play.

Held in conjunction with the spring game, RazorFest is the top fund-raising event of the year for Champions for Kids, a Fayetteville-based advocacy organization. Champions for Kids was founded by Adelaide and Rick Schaeffer four years ago and once again the organization, with assistance from corporate sponsors, will provide a day of family-centered activities from noon to 5:30 p.m. in and around Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Sometime between checking out the NASCAR simulators, gorging yourself on free food, listening to live music, chilling with Matt Jones and watching some 7-on-7 flag football featuring former Razorbacks, make your way over to the East concourse.

It's in that prime section of stadium real estate where this year's nonprofit RazorFest participants will be set up. Included are Arkansas Baptist Children's Homes, Arkansas Support Network, The Brandon Burlsworth Foundation, Camp Barnabas, Community Clinic at St. Francis House, The Elizabeth Richardson Center, LifeSource International Inc. and The Yvonne Richardson Center.

Don't worry. There's no need for a death grip on your wallet or purse as you walk through the displays.

Nobody is going to hit you up for money. That's not what the day is about, thanks to Champions for Kids, which will see to it that each of the eight worthy organizations receives $15,000 in matching grants.

More important than the money given is the overall mission of Champions for Kids. It has set out to increase awareness and stir up grass-roots support for the children of our state and region.

It has succeeded in raising money and awareness, overseeing the distribution of $165,000 in grant money, and facilitating the addition of 1,850 volunteers to partner organizations over the past three years.

Still, more work can be done.

So head to Fayetteville on April 26 for the spring game. Enjoy the time with your kids, taking in Petrino's debut as boss Hog. Just be sure to take the opportunity to get educated on the needs that exist in our communities.

Maybe you'll do what the Schaeffers have done in recent years and open your heart and home to children who are in desperate need of help. Perhaps you'll simply appreciate the time you have with your family a little more. That works, too.

Whether or not you choose to give money or get involved further is up to you.

There will be plenty of time to talk about that on the ride home.
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Title Annotation:FROM THE HILL
Author:Bahn, Chris
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Apr 7, 2008
Words:653
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