Hundreds of thousands of brave women marched in Yakima and all around the nation in solidarity during Saturday's Women's March. I grew up in a generation long past the days of the women's movement, so it astonishes me that after all these years we still have to have these kinds of demonstrations.

I was lucky growing up. I had the strongest female role model a boy could've had. She was amazing and I owe her a lifetime of gratitude.

I was 5 years old when I entered the foster care system and was passed home to home until I was 6. I finally was placed with a kindly older couple who, after several foster children, weren't interested in taking in another foster child.

My caseworker explained that I had nowhere to go and that I was a really cute kid with big brown eyes. My foster mom explained to me that they had their hearts broken before from another foster kid and that they couldn't handle the heartbreak of another child coming into their home and leaving them crushed.

My foster mom said when I arrived the first night that they met me that I had a box of my belongings, smashed and duct-taped. She said I looked up at her and my first words where "Just tell me what to do and I'll do it." My foster mom said from that moment I was her own, but little did she know that her profound welcoming kindness to me set the stage for my respect of women.

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My foster mom taught me manners, and more importantly showed me that all people are equal. I spent the next six years learning from her before being adopted out, but the lessons she taught have never been forgotten.

She was amazing and strong.

My foster parents ran a small ranch and restaurant on a remote highway in Washington state and she'd get up at 4 a.m. to open the store at 5. She'd fix the food and run the business with my foster dad and I could see her strength every day as she worked harder than anyone to make sure things were taken care of. Travelers from far and wide would enjoy her homemade apple pie and home cooking, all crafted daily with pride.

I never once doubted that men and woman weren't equal because she never once wavered. She worked harder and longer than either my foster dad or I and took care of both of us. She was the one who installed a unrelenting work ethic in me. And as much as I complained as a child with chores, it has set me up for a lifetime of success.

I can't convey the adulation I have for my foster mom and the strong foundation she gave me in my early childhood. I can't imagine or fathom the thought of women not being equal.

As women around the world march, I salute the finest woman I have ever known.

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I'm not concerned with politics of the march but I support a woman's right to march because my foster mom taught me that our conviction of the heart and our character define us, not our gender.



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