Superhero 5K Run highlights annual CASA fundraiser

Judge Kent Walston builds a playhouse for CASA in his workshop.

“Every child needs a hero, but abused children need a superhero,” said Christy Heisner, resource development coordinator for CASA – Court Appointed Special Advocates of Southeast Texas, Inc. Their annual fundraiser this year will feature the Superhero 5K and Kids Fun Run on Saturday, Sept. 26, at Parkdale Mall in Beaumont.

This event is the kickoff for the annual Casas for CASA playhouse display at the mall. From Sept. 26 – Oct. 3, visitors have the opportunity to view these unique structures and purchase tickets for a chance to own one of these one-of-a-kind playhouses.

Judge Kent Walston of the 58th District Court in Jefferson County is building one of the playhouses in his workshop that will be transported to Parkdale Mall for the event. Walston’s involvement with CASA goes back many years before his election to the bench. 

“As an attorney in private practice and as a municipal court judge in Nederland,” he said, “I was in the courthouse every day and saw first-hand the impact these cases can have on young lives.”

Walston does more than pontificate about how important the work of these court-appointed special advocates are in the life of a child – he rolls up his sleeves and goes to work on helping them achieve their vital mission. For over a year, he has served as president of the CASA Board of Directors.

“The Casas for CASA project helps me combine two things that are very important to me – helping abused and neglected children and woodworking,” said Walston. “Building one of these houses is like having a baby. Once you’re finished, you swear you’ll never do it again, but next year, there you are.” 

This is the third playhouse he has built for Casas for CASA. Walston’s skill with woodworking provides him respite from the rigors of the law. Before going to law school, he was a Port Arthur police officer, so he knows about the real-life struggles many people face day to day. He also builds furniture for families in the Habitat for Humanity homebuilding program.

Other playhouses for Casas for CASA are being built all over the community by devoted volunteers including Sammy Bevilacqua of Bevilacqua Construction; Tom Cockrell of DRC Construction; staff and inmates of the Richard P. LeBlanc Unit in Beaumont, a pre-release facility of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice; and a group of Port Arthur firefighters affiliated with the International Association of Firefighters Local 397 working out of Fire Station Three on Canal Street.

While the contributions of these men and women to CASA can be described as heroic, Heisner said they are calling on the public to step up and become CASA superheroes in the 5K run Sept. 26. Registration is available online at On-site registration opens at 7 a.m. and the 5K starts at 8 a.m. with the Kids Fun Run starting immediately afterwards. Everyone is encouraged to wear his or her superhero attire as prizes will be awarded for best costume.

For information about these upcoming events, contact the CASA of Southeast Texas office at (409) 832-2272. Your support allows CASA of Southeast Texas to continue their mission of recruiting, training and supervising a diverse group of volunteers who advocate for abused and neglected children in Jefferson County.


Court Appointed Special Advocates of Southeast Texas Inc. is a nonprofit service organization that recruits, trains, and supervises a diverse group of community volunteers, appointed by the courts for abused and neglected children in the pursuit of safe, permanent homes.