Sept. 22, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

‘I’m Not Running Away’

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Estakio Beltran said his childhood in foster care was challenging but that he didn’t know at the time that life could be different.

He buoyed his spirit by finding happiness in prosaic moments. “One day, someone was going to compliment you on your shoes, as crappy as they may be, and the next day you get a good grade on an assignment,” he said. “And that was enough to get you through the next week.”

Without any strong roots in Washington state, Beltran packed up immediately after earning his
degree and moved to Washington, D.C. He worked as a legislative correspondent for Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and then moved to Cardoza’s office two years later. 

Beltran takes pride in Cardoza’s involvement in combating child abuse and highlights Cardoza’s work on the health care overhaul. The law extends health care coverage to children as old as 26 under their parents’ plans, and his boss advocated for foster care children of the same age to also be covered.

Beltran doesn’t consider his child advocacy work anywhere close to being done. He hopes his story will inspire foster kids, “whether that’s picking up running as a sport or learning about the opportunities that exist out there for children who come from backgrounds like mine.”

He doesn’t dwell on his past hardships and wants to be positive and inspirational and enforce the fact that help is out there.

“I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me. I just got here, I’m just getting started, I’m not running away,” Beltran said.

The marathon is one part on his path to raising awareness. He first discovered Childhelp during a staff briefing on children’s issues and found that he agreed with its holistic approach to foster care.

When Childhelp asked Hill staffers to run in Toronto to benefit the organization, Beltran decided to help a group that reminded him of those that had aided him.

He is up to running 18 miles at a time now and trains in the mornings and evenings on the Hill, beginning on the steps of the Capitol.

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