Merced County Times Newspaper
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CASA Cyclist Stops in Merced on Mission to Keep Kids Safe

What would motivate Aaron Pankratz to ride his bike 588 miles in four days?

Pankratz is the associate director of the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Santa Barbara County, and he was on his way to the State Capitol this week in a journey from the Santa Barbara Courthouse. He rides to raise awareness about child abuse, and the need for CASA volunteers.

These volunteers are assigned, one-on-one, to help children in foster care who have experienced abuse or neglect. They act as a mentor, as well as the eyes and ears for the court system.

CASA volunteers are needed in every county — including Merced — so Aaron stopped by at every CASA program on his way to the Capitol.

On Monday morning, he dropped in to visit the offices of CASA of Merced County in central Merced. He received a warm welcome, and some refreshments. He even picked up a local CASA riding companion, Charissa Beardsley, for a ride to CASA Modesto in Stanislaus County.

Pankratz would later ride to Stockton and Sacramento.

“CASA volunteers experience many hills and hurdles while working on a child’s case,” says Pankratz. “While their hills are more metaphorical, mine will be literal … I’m riding 588 miles so more children can have a successful future.”

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