Oct. 3 walk to raise funds, awareness of domestic violence

By KEVIN BRADY

color-running-manMore than more 100 walkers and runners will be bursting with color as they take to the pathways of E.G. Simmons Park, 2401 19th Ave. NW in Ruskin this weekend. The Stepping Out Against Domestic Violence Color Run’s dynamic will be enhanced by colored powder or paint applied as the runners take off. Hence the term “color run.”

The purpose of this event is to raise awareness about an issue all too often kept behind closed doors: domestic violence.

The event is a fundraiser for Mary & Martha House, an emergency shelter offering transitional housing and support services to women who are homeless and/or victims of domestic violence and their dependent children. Just as important, organizers say, is that the Color Run lets women know they have options — something their mother’s generation all too often did not have.

“The idea [for the event] came because we were trying to think of a way to bring more awareness about domestic violence and we thought the best way would be by ‘stepping out’ with a walk/run,” said Laurie Herring, program and housing director, who has worked at the shelter for five years. Organizers hope to raise $20,000 from the event.

This first annual walk/run is slated for Saturday, Oct. 3, with a 7:30 a.m. warm-up; the walk/run begins at 9 a.m.

Families, beginners, children and pets (on a leash) are among those expected to participate in the event.

Participants raise funds by getting pledges from friends, co-workers and family.

Those suffering domestic violence need no longer suffer in silence, Herring said. “There are many ways people can help, from paying attention to the signs to donating to a place like Mary & Martha House, to helping the women who have actually stepped forward.”

So far this year, Mary & Martha House has helped more than 50 families. The number of women needing help has risen “significantly” over the last few years, Herring said. “I think women now realize there are options for them, and there is help. At the Mary & Martha House, we do individualized case management with them, and every woman has a different set of circumstances,” she said. “So if we don’t help them overcome those barriers they are not going to be able to stand on their own feet and succeed.

“We have many women who have been homemakers their entire lives — which is work — but to corporate America that is not considered work. So through our employment programs and Mary & Martha House University, we have different sets of skill-training programs, depending on that woman’s needs for her family.”

Anyone interested in joining in can register and download a sponsorship form at www.MaryMarthaHouse.org. The cost is $25 per person for the chip-timed run. Register at the walk or online at www.active.com; search for “Stepping Out Against Domestic Violence.” For more information, call 813-641-7027.

Keller Williams South Shore Realty is a major sponsor of this event, along with Ryan Companies, Hooks Waterfront Bar and Grill, Sunset Grill at Little Harbor, Tampa Tribune and ABC Event Planning.

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