Hundreds walk in mission to end domestic violence

More than 500 people walked together on a rainy Saturday morning, hoping to end domestic and sexual violence.

Ducking under umbrellas, Walk for Hope participants walked two miles on a rainy Saturday morning, determined to help end domestic and sexual violence. Photo by Sue Austreng

Ducking under umbrellas, Walk for Hope participants walked two miles on a rainy Saturday morning, determined to help end domestic and sexual violence. Photo by Sue Austreng

The Sept. 28 Walk for Hope took place at Bunker Hills Regional Park and benefits Alexandra House.

“It is certainly a testament to hope that you are all here today,” said Alexandra House Executive Director Connie Moore, welcoming participants to the Walk for Hope event as gray clouds spilled raindrops on the ground.

Men, women and children – and a few canine companions, too – covered the course, raising money to support Alexandra House programs and services for victims of domestic and sexual violence.

Last year, the staff at Alexandra House provided service to 3,134 victims of domestic and sexual violence, and sheltered and provided advocacy and support services to 637 women and children.

Also, during 2012, more than 9,000 calls came in to the 24-hour emergency crisis line.

“Together we’ve accomplished so much, but we also need to take time to remember those who couldn’t be here,” Moore said.

Then the names of local victims were read and a moment of silence was observed.

Many who took steps during the Walk for Hope did so in honor of victims of domestic violence, many walked in memory of family or friends who did not survive the violence.

Andre Koen, a member of the Alexandra House board of directors, told the walkers he’s been in their shoes.

“I have been touched by domestic violence,” he said. “It is time for us to speak up. It is time for us to stand up. It is time for us to act up.”

Koen encouraged each person to have conversations with their circle of friends and family about what it is to show respect and treat each other with dignity.

“We must not remain silent. We must speak up. We must stand up. We must act up,” Koen said.

After a few gentle warm-up drills led by Kara Hirdman deBonilla under a park pavilion, the crowd assembled under umbrellas at the Walk for Hope start line.

A few dozen people completed the 5K run, while hundreds more walked the two-mile walk.

At press time, some $32,000 had been raised during the event. Donations are still welcome and can be made by calling 763-656-1368 or by visiting www.alexandrahouse.org.

Walk for Hope community support

The following local groups and businesses provided support during the 2013 Walk for Hope:

• Andover High School Huskies volunteered at the event, helping with set up, reading names of silent witnesses, guiding runners and walkers along the course and at the end, helping to tear down and clean up.

• Walgreen’s provided water, fruit snacks and granola bars.

• Starbuck’s donated coffee and hot apple cider.

• Bunker Hills Golf Club donated the golf carts that are essential to set and management of the course and for transporting volunteers and supplies to their posts along the route.

• Bromley Printing donated a portion of the printing costs.

• Coon Rapids Women’s Health Clinic staffed the first aid station.

• Catchfire donated graphic design services.

• Balloons Galore donated the balloon arch.

• Lorenz Bus Service donated a portion of the shuttle services.

Sue Austreng is at sue.austreng@ecm-inc.com

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