Pay It Forward salutes Foster Hope program in Atkinson, Illinois

ATKINSON, Illinois -- With more than 400 runners on the move, a small community sends a big message.  In Atkinson, it's all about Foster Hope.

"You can tell she has a passion for it," said Melissa Beard.  "She loves the children."

Longtime foster parent Lola Rahn started Foster Hope nearly two years ago.  It provides crucial supplies and support groups for foster families.

"We've had children for a couple days and children for a couple years, but you can always make a difference in the life of a child," Lola said.

That's why Megan Guldenpfennig from Ascentra Credit Union is stopping by.

"Lola is someone with such a big heart and is constantly giving back to others," she said.  "Her selflessness is a true example of what it means to be listening, caring and doing what's right - our core values at Ascentra Credit Union.  For that reason, I would like to present you with $300, so that you can Pay It Forward to her."

Moments later, Melissa Beard is ready to make an emotional delivery.

"On behalf of WQAD News Eight and Ascentra Credit Union, we're going to Pay It Forward to you," she said.

Inside a former school, Foster Hope is doing just that for families.

"I find it very peaceful and calming," Lola said.  "I'm pretty proud of this space."

It also helps foster parents to respond.  And what's good for families is great for this community.

"It's very humbling," Lola said.  "I'm blessed to be able to do this."

The race, in memory of her late son, Jordan, continues to be a step in the right direction.

"Show her that it's a bigger picture," Melissa concluded.  "A lot of people are watching and seeing all that she does."

Foster Hope will host a family celebration on Sunday, October 7, 2018, in Geneseo Park.

For more information on it and other activities, check the group's Facebook page, Foster Hope - Q.C. Area.