FRAMINGHAM – More than 125 runners and walkers participated in the 5th Annual Break the Silence run/walk to benefit Voices Against Violence on Saturday morning.
The event is a fundraiser to benefit the domestic violence and rape crisis center that served Framingham and other MetroWest communities. The Center, run by the South Middlesex Opportunity Council (SMOC), serves about 3,000 survivors of sexual and domestic abuse.
Among the walkers yesterday was a team called “Colbert Crusaders” , who participated in memory of Emily, Elise and Patricia Colbert, three sisters who died in 1991 due to domestic violence. This year the team, raised almost $1,500.
Congresswoman Katherine Clark, who represents Framingham, was the honorary chair of the event. Wade Blackman, who works for the Congresswoman spoke before the race.
For the first time, the event featured a timed 5K race and a 2K walk.
“As this event changes today, we have noticed, and witnessed the landscape change of this issue, to include cyber crimes, swatting.”
Blackman told the crowd “we stand together, more determined to be loud in chorus, than stronger as soloists.”
“Together, said Blackman “we send a message to all victims and their abusers that we will not look the other way. … Ee send that message with our feet, with our friends, with our words, and with our actions. And our feet will speak for us today as we run and walk and say hands are not for hurting, hands are not for hitting. Hands are for hugs. Hands are for high-5s, hands are for holding. Give and get high-5s as we run together. And hold your hands up high, as we walk and run together as one, to take these important steps to raise our voices to end domestic violence.”
The winner of the 5K race, that went through neighborhoods in Framingham and Natick, was Jim Fisk, 28, of Framingham. He finished in 19.16 minutes.
The top female finisher was Stephanie Luz, 29, of Framingham. Her time was 25.39 minutes.
Framingham Selectmen Chair Cheryl Tully Stoll said annually she has attended this event, and “each year she is heartened by the enthusiasm of the participants, as well as disheartened by the fact that we have to keep coming back.”
Tully Stoll questioned why is such an important program not federally funded, and why doesn’t it receive the state funding it deserves.
“A big part of the problem is that victims (of domestic violence) don’t have a union to represent them,” said Tully Stoll before the race began. “They don’t have powerful lobbying groups that can spend large amount of money that can influence legislation. The voices they have is ours.”
Tull Stoll told those about to run and walk the route that “your efforts today will reach than you even realize. I love that we live in a community that cares. To proof it, you are all stepping up, literally, to this important cause. This is about more than just a cause. This is about people. Today, you are helping people, women, children, men, who other than bad circumstances, are just like you and I.”
Among those who participated in the run/walk yesterday were members of the Framingham High football team, who the night before lost a tough game to Weymouth. Just hours after giving it their all on the field, they were running and walking to help their community.
Framingham football captain Jared Brockway was second across the finish line. Those under age 18 were not timed yesterday.
Finishing second and third for men, in the timed portion of the race, was Erik Reddington of Ashland and Blackman of Natick. Finishing second and third for females was Krysta Peplowski of Framingham and Kim Reddington of Ashland.
Many of the top finishers yesterday and the age group winners were members of the Greater Framingham Running Club.
Ed Stoll, 59, of Framingham was the top finisher over age 55 just beating fellow Greater Framingham Running Club member Mike Bower. Stoll finished in 27.17 minutes. Bower in 27.44 minutes.
Jane Lane of Norwood was the top female finisher over age 55.
Framingham Town Clerk Valerie Mulvey chaired the committee that oversaw yesterday’s event.
For the past 39 years, Voices Against Violence, a program operated by the South Middlesex Opportunity Council (SMOC) has provided free and confidential services to victims and survivors of sexual and domestic violence and their families. In 2015, VAV provided 4389 hours of counseling and case management for 821 survivors and connected 196 survivors with legal assistance. Trained volunteers and staff members spent 387 hours working with 979 victims through the organization’s 24-hour hotline. The KidSpace Supervised Visitation Center provided safe and neutral visitation for 56 families.
Gianakis said “although Voices Against Violence has accomplished much over the past 39 years — helping families to heal from the destruction and heartache caused by sexual and domestic violence – the organization is in need of additional funds to continue its mission. Our hope is that this family-friendly event will shine a light on the tragedy of family violence in this area, while raising the money needed to ensure that free and confidential support and educational outreach remain uninterrupted.”
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