Catholic mom organizes 'virtual' race for Chinese orphans

Mrs. Katie Murphy runs in the Shamrock Marathon. Photo courtesy of Katie Murphy.
Mrs. Katie Murphy runs in the Shamrock Marathon. Photo courtesy of Katie Murphy.

.- After researching adoption in China and learning of the high rates of abandoned children, a Catholic homeschooling mother organized a run to raise awareness of the country's 147 million orphans.

“I think when your eyes become open to such a need and God uses it to touch your heart, you have to do something. You are called to do something,” Katie Murphy, founder of the Run for the Little Flowers Virtual 5K told CNA Oct. 15.

When she and her husband Peter learned that they may not have been able to have any more children of their own, Murphy said she “naturally” wanted to adopt.

They looked first to Ethiopia and then to China. During the research process, they read about a child who was abandoned on a street corner when he was just two days old.

“All I could do was picture that, a poor helpless newborn, just being left, abandoned,” Murphy said.

From that moment on, she said, “the desire to do something for the orphans in China grew.”

The more the Murphys researched, the more they learned about the large number of Chinese orphans with serious medical conditions who are left to die each year.

“I would not say I was surprised, but I really had not known that so many children were abandoned,” Murphy said.

When it seemed that God was not calling the Murphys to adoption, “at least not right now,” she said she still felt a great need to help the children she learned about throughout the research process.

It was during this time that, through a friend's Facebook post, Murphy also learned about Little Flower Projects in China.

Founded in 1995, Little Flower Projects is an outreach of China Little Flower, a nonprofit organization that seeks to “build a culture of life” by providing care for orphans in need of medical attention. The children are cared for by live-in nannies who spend six-month stints at the orphanage acting as their mothers, providing for their medically-fragile charges.

“A friend of mine shared a picture of one of the orphans in their care, and I immediately tried to find out all I could about (Little Flower Projects),” she said.

The charity frequently updates their Facebook account with pictures of children they are caring for, giving donors and those praying for their work a chance to see the progress and growth of the children.

“There is a beauty and a peacefulness about their work that even exudes through their writing and photographs,”Murphy said.

Named after Saint Therese of Lisieux, the 19th-century French Carmelite nun who is affectionately known as “the Little Flower,” the charity seeks to provide care for those “who are rejected, abandoned, deemed as useless and have no voice.”

As a result of her research and her love of running, Murphy, who completed her first marathon in 2011, organized a “virtual” 5K run to benefit the charity.

From anywhere in the country, runners can sign up for the race through Murphy's blog, “Blessed with Full Hands,” and complete the race on Oct. 20, with all profits going directly to Little Flower Projects to help pay the six-month salary of one of the live-in nannies.

“I was concerned that because (Little Flower Projects) is, literally, on the other side of the world, people would feel removed from it,” she said. “But, that was not the case.”

Murphy's goal was to register 147 runners across the United States, one participant for every one million orphans in China, but so far she's registered 200 and had to suspend registration in order to catch up with all the orders.

The enthusiastic support for the run has been “a grassroots effort” because “friends, acquaintances and people who just loved this fundraiser spread the information for me.”

Murphy is not officially associated with Little Flower Projects, but recently had the opportunity to speak with founder and fellow Catholic, Brent Johnson.

The encounter left her even more encouraged to help after hearing about his work in China.

“All of their work is shrouded in prayer and the knowledge that God is present in all they do,” she said.

Although she has never been to China and only describes herself as “just a mom with a heart for orphans,” Murphy said she would like to visit someday and plans on making the charity run an annual event.

“This may sound silly,” she said, “but I think this is just the beginning.”

Overall, Murphy realized that “in the grand scheme of things” the proceeds from the race will not “significantly” impact the charity. Nonetheless, she said, “there are now thousands of people out there” who now know about Little Flower Projects and can pray for the children they serve.

“I still pray that God take my few loaves and fishes in this fundraiser and perform the miracle,” she said, referencing John 6:1-15, a scripture passage that has taken on a deeper meaning since reaching out to orphans in China.

To learn more about Little Flowers Project, visit

Tags: Pro-life, Church in China