Los Altos resident's Flower Run changes location but maintains objective – helping foster children

Courtesy of Debbie Crouse
Participants from a past Flower Run 5K celebrate after finishing the race. This year’s event is scheduled Sunday at Baylands Park in Sunnyvale.

Debbie Crouse has a passion for bettering her community. Since moving to Los Altos in 2004, she has immersed herself in volunteering and advocating for foster children.

One way she does it is by organizing the annual Flower Run 5K, which she started three years ago. The event benefits Child Advocates of Silicon Valley, a nonprofit organization that supports foster children and on whose board Crouse serves.

The Flower Run has moved from Los Altos Hills to Sunnyvale this year, scheduled 9:30 a.m. Sunday at Baylands Park, 999 E. Caribbean Drive. The event’s growing popularity – it has experienced an increase of 50 runners each year – led to the move, according to Crouse.

“I know there’s room for the Flower Run to grow, and I hope we’ll one day reach more than 1,000 runners,” she said.

Crouse and fellow organizers chose Baylands for its convenient location, picturesque scenery and ability to accommodate many more runners.

“It’s an amazing place to host a run since it’s so beautiful out there,” Crouse said. “When you run out near the wetlands, you are near the water, so there’s plenty of birds and geese. You’re out of the madhouse of the bay and away from the traffic. You’re just there on the bay and it’s a wonderful experience.”

This year, Crouse and her team made it their goal to elevate the runners’ experience. She said they hope to do this by handing out colorful T-shirts, providing music from start to finish and arranging for mothers and daughters from the National Charity League to cheer on runners along the course. In addition, there will be a finish party at which runners are handed a rose, take photos in the selfie area, enter a raffle and explore decorated booths.

Runners are encouraged to adorn their best flower gear in hopes of being crowned the “most flowerful” runner. The run is not timed, but the fastest male and female runners will receive prizes donated by A Runner’s Mind in downtown Los Altos.

All proceeds from the Flower Run will be donated to Child Advocates of Silicon Valley, which serves foster children from birth to age 24. The agency connects foster children with Court Appointed Special Advocates who see the children on a regular basis.

“I’ve learned a lot from serving on the board of Child Advocates,” Crouse said. “I’ve learned about the struggles children go through when they don’t have stable parents in their lives, as well as the challenges parents go through when they are separated from their children. It just makes you get out of your own world and remember that there are so many people out there living difficult lives.” 

To register for the Flower Run ($40), visit

For more information on Child Advocates, visit

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