Growing up with Downey Side

Spring is almost here, so while there’s still snow on the ground, I thought it would be good to look back at the highlight of the winter season for Downey Side—the annual Race For Kids held at Stowe Mountain in Vermont. The event, organized by the Financial Communications Society, has jumpstarted our fundraising for 22 years. That’s an entire generation! 


The race took place on Saturday, January 8, but the focal point for us was the big charity event the night before. It’s really the only time where one of our families, this year that was the Perone family, come face-to-face with one of the pillars of our financial support, the FCS community. And what’s really interesting, at least to me, is that the entire weekend is very much a family affair.  Many of the FCS members bring their families every year and their children have grown up witnessing the impact that the organization has not only on Downey Side but also the local chapters of Hope & Heroes and Make A Wish. 

The courage of the Perones to bear witness to everything they’ve gone through was just incredible. Selena Perone, 13 years old, told the story about her journey in foster care, describing in heartbreaking detail the hardships she endured as she was shuffled from placement to placement almost 10 times. What came across was her acute need for parents. For stability. For a permanent family. And from her parents’ perspective, it was understanding how Selena challenged their attitudes and what they had to change in themselves. 


This made me wonder what effect does attending the Race for Kids have on the FCS families? What does hearing these kinds of stories every year do to the children who are from secure, permanent homes? Does it make them appreciate what they’ve got? Do they have a better understanding of what it means to be in a family? Especially now that many of them are grownups themselves. 


Charity is of course a two-way street. People give not just to improve the lot of the unfortunate but also because it makes them feel good about themselves. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But it does much more than provide a dopamine rush. It’s a mirror through which you can examine your own life and your intentions. It’s also a mirror on society, why do we have a foster care system like the one we’ve got? 


My hope is that when the next generation of young FCS skiers mature the foster care system will have disappeared like snow in the spring. And that the current crop of young people are the ones motivated to make that happen.  

—Br. Terry Taffe