Snowshoe for Peru this Saturday at Sylvan Lake State Park benefits Corazon de Esperanza | VailDaily.com

Snowshoe for Peru this Saturday at Sylvan Lake State Park benefits Corazon de Esperanza

Snowshoe for Peru participants tackle the Sylvan Lake State Park course. The third-annual event, which benefits Corazan de Esperanza in Peru, is planned for Saturday.

EAGLE — On Tuesday, Karina Hanson celebrated her 18th birthday with her family in Gypsum.

Everyone was excited to enjoy a rare snow day from Eagle County Schools, and the Hanson family planned special activities to mark the happy occasion.

But Karina Hanson's life could have been so very different. If she still lived in her native Peru, then she would have found herself literally cast out on the street.

"Today, she would have been aged out of the orphanage. She would have been given a bag and totally let go," said her mom, Robyn Hanson.

The sad part is Karina Hanson would not have been unique. When kids who have grown up in orphanages in that part of the world reach legal age, they are sent out to make their own way in the world. They naturally don't have many possessions, and they have little cash. More importantly, they likely lack job skills or education to pull them out of poverty.

In a nutshell, that is why Corazon de Esparanza and its affiliated Hogar Luz de Vida program, exists.

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Corazon de Esperanza is a nonprofit organization that provides hope to orphaned children, at-risk teens and impoverished women of northern Peru. A decade ago, Robyn Hanson arrived at the organization's doorstep on a volunteer mission trip.

"Ten years ago, a one-month trip to Peru changed my life," she said.

While volunteering at Corazon de Esperanza back in 2006, she met a group of five brothers and sisters at the orphanage. She formed a special bond with the kids, and then later, when her husband Joel joined her for a year-long mission, the couple decided to adopt all five children. Today, Karina, Araceli, Dany, Yen and Zuzu Hanson call Gypsum home, but the family continues to work to help Peruvian orphans who remain unadopted.

About Hogar Luz de Vida

Hogar Luz de Vida is a transitional home for at-risk teens. It is the first of its kind in northern Peru to exclusively provide a home for older youth who have aged out of orphan care. The services provided include long-term self-sufficiency, to help youth make the difficult transition from orphanage care to independent living.

"Our goal isn't just a short-term solution. Our goal is to change outcomes and change futures," Robyn Hanson said. "Our desire is to educate and provide resources so that children and youth can become productive citizens. We also help to train women in sustainable vocations and programs."

For residents and families who want to help that effort, the event provides an exciting way to plunge in and have a whole lot of fun at the same time.

Strap on some snowshoes

Snowshoe enthusiasts of all ages and fitness levels are invited to participate in the third annual Snowshoe for Peru 5K on Saturday at Sylvan Lake State Park.

"We want people to have a good time while raising money for a good cause," Robyn Hanson said. The emphasis is on fun during Snowshoe for Peru.

"With the new improvements we have made to the course, it will bring even more enjoyment to the participants this year. We invite snowshoers of all fitness levels to come, bring a friend and sign up as an individual or a family," Robyn Hanson said.

Event proceeds will support youth services, educational sponsorship, women's programs, short-term mission trips and volunteer programs.

"Basically, we wanted to see how we could reach our own community," Robyn Hanson said. "This is a great event opportunity for the community to be involved. This is a just a great, fun community event."

If you go …

What: Snowshoe for Peru.

When: Saturday, Feb. 6; registration opens at 9 a.m., and the 5K event begins at 10 a.m.

Where: Sylvan Lake State Park, 10200 Brush Creek Road, Eagle.

Cost: Pre-registration for Snowshoe for Peru 5K is $25, or $30 on race day.

More information: Participants may register online at http://www.corazondeesperanza.org, call 303-801-8958 for more information, or visit Corazon de Esperanza on its Facebook event page, “Snowshoe for Peru 5K.”