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Woman turns painful experience in foster care into advocacy for other children

On Saturday, the Fostering Dreams Foundation will host its first child abuse awareness walk at Zeiger Park in DeSoto.

DESOTO, Texas — Vallery Mitchell would like you to take a walk with her.

"There's no max on the money we want to raise. The more money we raise the more children we can serve," she said about her foundation fundraiser this Saturday.

Mitchell is the founder of the Fostering Dreams Foundation in Dallas.

"To foster something means to help something develop. To help something grow. To help something grow what it wants to be," she said about the meaning behind the name of her foundation.

Fostering Dreams Foundation provides free services to foster children.

"They don't get to see themselves photographed. They don't get to see their hair done. They don't get to go places so we come in there and we offer that to them free," she said of the kids her foundation helps.

On Saturday, the foundation will host its first child abuse awareness walk at Zeiger Park in DeSoto. To register and to find out more information, visit fosteringdreamsdfw.org.

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"Along the trail that they will be running on, there will be tons of placards highlighting foster youth that are successful and highlighting youth that have inspired child abuse laws that we see today," she said.

There's a reason Mitchell wants to raise awareness about child abuse.

"I was born into the foster care system. I was in foster care roughly five-and-a-half years."

Her Child Protective Services case file fills up a box that she carries with her.

She also carries with her the trauma she endured in foster care. She was placed in two different foster homes before the age of 5.

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"In my second home I experienced more trauma. That's where I was placed on up to five different psychiatric medications. That's where I experienced the sexual assault that happened in foster care and that's where I experienced the lack of bond with the caregiver," she explained.

Mitchell will tell you she is here today because of the family who adopted her.

"My mom, Cassandra Mitchell. My dad, Jerry Mitchell. Love them so much, and my brother Jerron Mitchell. They brought me to their home and my life changed."

Mitchell owes it to the little 5-year-old-girl inside of her to help change the lives of other children.

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"I am so proud of her," she said when asked what she would tell the little 5-year-old inside of her.

With her voice cracking and tears rolling down her face she added:

"I survived. That's what I tell everybody. I survived."

The first Child Abuse Awareness Walk is this Saturday in DeSoto from 9 a.m.- 2 p.m. To register and to find out more information, visit fosteringdreamsdfw.org.