The Joyful Child Foundation—In Memory of Samantha Runnion is a 501 (c)(3) not for profit organization founded in 2002 after the abduction, molestation and murder of five-year old Samantha Runnion. In order to prevent child sexual abuse and abduction The Joyful Child Foundation will:

  • Be the resource for concerned parents to engage in the movement to stop predatory crimes against children.
  • Provide proactive education and empowerment tools to children and parents.
  • Facilitate collaboration among individuals, non- profit organizations, schools, businesses, and government to create sustainable community initiatives to ensure that safety education for child protection continue in perpetuity.


The Joyful Child Foundation’s goal is to ensure that every child is exposed to personal safety education and opportunities to practice in order to cultivate each child’s instinctual response to recognize, avoid, and if necessary, physically resist and escape inappropriate behaviors or violence.  To meet this challenge, we have developed programs for parents and children to effectively reach every community.

The Joyful Child trains teachers, non-profit partners, and law enforcement agencies to deliver our programs to children and parents.  Contributions support our programs and sponsor trainings for those who cannot afford them.

Samantha Runnion


The Joyful Child Foundation was established in loving memory of Samantha Runnion. Samantha was a bright, creative, and loving little girl.  She encouraged her friends and siblings to try their best and “Be Brave.” Samantha’s greatest gift was finding and sharing the joy in all that she did.

Erin Runnion


Erin Runnion is the mother of Samantha Runnion and the Founding Director of The Joyful Child Foundation. Erin is dedicated to ensuring that Samantha’s tragic death will continue to be a catalyst to engage adults in our collective responsibility to protect our nation’s children. Honors include A Certificate of Valor from The Department of Justice, People Magazine’s 2004 Heroes Among Us Award, and commendations from the California State Assembly.


TJCF Board of Directors
  • Erin Runnion, Founding Director
  • Arthur A. Cummins, Ed.D., Chairman of the Board
  • Safe & Healthy Schools, Orange County Department of Education
  • David Carr, Vice-Chairman
  • Progressive Label Inc. and Del Mar Lighting Inc.
  • Daryl Tallon, Member
  • Farmers Insurance
  • Kenneth Donnelly, Member
  • Financial Analyst
  • Allison Lusk Mauvezin, Member
  • Event Planner
  • Jason Demas, Member
  • Broadcom
  • Patrick Helgeson, Member
  • Newport Equities
  • Nicole Varner Orue, Member
  • Orange County Deputy District Attorney
  • Allison Martin, Member
  • Newmeyer & Dillion, LLC


  • The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s 2003 Hope Award
  • A Certificate of Valor from The Department of Justice
  • People Magazine’s 2004 Heroes Among Us Award
  • Redbook Magazine’s 2005 Mothers and Shakers honor
  • People Magazine in the 2007 Heroes Among Us Awards as a founding member of The Surviving Parents Coalition
  • Child Help’s "Children's Friend Award" 2013
  • Outstanding Public Service Award - Delta Kappa Gamma Society for Key Women Educators – International
  • California Attorney General Commendation 2013
  • California State, County, and City commendations.