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'Hero' regardless of age
Child runs to raise $500 for nonprofit
Abba WEB 1
Kassie Arps reacts to receiving thank you notes for the work she did to raise $500 for Abba House. Sitting next to her is the facility’s founder, Jim Sharp. - photo by Autumn Vetter

When you’re not quite 8 years old, running a 5K may seem like a big challenge.

But for Kassie Arps, who’s quick to state her age as “seven and three-quarters,” it wasn’t that daunting.

She completed the Fifth Annual Abba House Run for Recovery in mid-May in just 28 minutes and 28 seconds.

She also managed to raise $500 for the facility, which provides long-term care and treatment to women dealing with problems such as drug and alcohol abuse or emotional issues.

Abba House also offers a home to their children as the women undergo recovery.

Arps learned about Abba House through her church, The Vine Community Church on Bethelview Road, said her mother, Patricia Arps.

“Kids from [Abba House] have been in her Sunday school class for years,” the older Arps said. “One of the little girls especially she became friends with.”

Kassie Arps said her reason for helping the facility was simple.

“I knew that Abba House needed help, so I wanted to help them,” she said.

So a few weeks before the race began, Kassie Arps set out to collect as many donations as she could.

The first step was writing a letter which she would eventually place in mailboxes around her neighborhood, Deer Lakes subdivision in south Forsyth, and mail to other family members and friends.

“I think the hardest part of this for her was writing the letter neatly,” Patricia Arps said.

Kassie noted that she had to “write it over seven times.”

Her mom said the family was delighted the girl worked hard to raise so much funding.

“We were really proud of her for doing it because she pretty much took it on herself and the hard part really was how many times she started over to get that letter just perfect before she mailed it out,” Patricia Arps said, adding that she was pleased her active daughter could use exercise to raise money for a good cause.

“Active is her normal way of being, not still, and it was really cool that she could use something — she’s a talented athlete — that she loves to do for such a great cause … now she can use something as fun as running and sports to raise money to support such a great cause as Abba House.”

The young Arps’ letter also included a handwritten form asking for donations of $5, $10 or “other.”

“I got donations of $500 by 35 people,” Kassie Arps said proudly while meeting with representatives of Abba House on Wednesday.

Paige Smith, public relations representative for the facility, presented her with a few tokens of appreciation.

“The girls in the program each wrote you a little letter and then Abba House wants to give you a $25 gift certificate to our thrift store so you can get whatever you like,” Smith said.

“I think you’re a huge inspiration to adults and children of your age and I would like to say thank you.”

Founder Jim Sharp said that while Abba House has many donors, Arps’ gift is special.

“When you take her age and compare it to the other donors, the $500 that she raised is much more than anyone else gives,” he said. “It’s just amazing and we really appreciate it.

“She’s our hero.”