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Races for the children

Families use sports to promote, and take part in, adoption

The Robertsons Handout

Races for the children
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Nearly two years after running 2,200 miles to raise support for orphans in Uganda, Drew Burnett is working at Chick-fil-A to pay off credit card debt so his family can move to the African nation. The Burnetts would then join others whose passion for sport helped bring families together through adoption. Drew and his wife, Amy, would like to adopt children in Uganda.

“We pray for them every night even though we don’t know them,” Burnett, 35, said of the children the couple hopes to adopt. Their adoption ambitions long preceded Drew’s 2014 attempt to break the Appalachian Trail speed record and raise money for an orphanage and school (See “Run for the children,” June 28, 2014).

Though believing God had called them to Uganda, they first tried foster care rather than tackle $30,000 in credit card debt. “We almost in a way began to take things into our own hands,” Drew said, mourning the tension that it caused his marriage. But after selling their home last year, Drew, Amy, and son Malachi are on pace to leave for Uganda debt-free in August to work and adopt at that same orphanage and school.

The Burnetts are not alone in combining sports and adoption advocacy. Duck Dynasty’s Willie and Korie Robertson met their newest son as a foster child at last year’s Duck Commander 500 NASCAR race. Rowdy, 13, helped yell “start your engines” on April 9 at the same race this year, which the Robertsons dedicated to adoption and the estimated 114,000 kids in foster care.

The Robertsons have now adopted three children, inviting adoption agencies and financial aid groups this year to Texas Motor Speedway to support their Drive Adoption initiative, with a goal of 115,000 adoptions. “If we can use that platform to plant the seed, then good,” Korie Robertson told The Dallas Morning News.

Indeed, sport provides a platform that few enjoy. A documentary of Burnett’s Appalachian Trail attempt, Running for Eden, comes out in July, just before the family leaves. “I still consider myself an amateur runner,” Burnett told me, “but He still gave me a platform to speak about something that matters.”

Wage play

Five players from the U.S. women’s national soccer team filed a federal complaint March 30 in their ongoing labor dispute with the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF). World Cup champions Hope Solo, Carli Lloyd, and others filed the complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, accusing the USSF of wage discrimination. Unlike in other sports, women soccer players in some years bring in more revenue than the men. But the men earn as much as two-thirds more per game than the women, lawyer Jeffrey Kessler says.

The numbers can be convoluted, since the men and women have rather different collectively bargained agreements—women are salaried with benefits while men are paid per game. But among grievances, the men receive a bonus per ticket sold that’s higher than what women receive. The men’s bonus for making the World Cup roster is 4.5 times higher.

The women have support from male stars such as goalkeeper Tim Howard. The USSF, though, struggles to break even each year. The women’s current deal runs through December. —A.B.

Andrew Branch Andrew is a World Journalism Institute graduate and a former WORLD correspondent.


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