EATON — The 11th Annual Preble County Victim Witness 5K Walk/Run was held on Sunday, Sept. 29. The walk brings together families and supporters to remember their loved ones and raise awareness for the Victim Witness program.
The Preble County Victim Witness Program was established in 1991 to provide support and assistance to victims throughout the criminal justice process. The 5K was developed in order to bring people together to celebrate survivors, remember loved ones and empower individuals and the community to fight for crime victims’ rights.
According to Program Director and Victim Advocate Brenda Miller, after expenses, 100 percent of the monies raised from registration will be used exclusively for the benefit of victims of crime in Preble County and their families.
“We started this to bring awareness for victims of crimes and for the families to be able to walk in memory of their loved ones lost — maybe they knew someone who was a victim and they’re walking in support of them,” Miller said. “We hold this mostly for our families, so they have an outlet to express their feelings and walk in their loved ones memory and support.
“Monies raised go toward victims of crime. We use it for training, because we have to keep up with training in order to be able to help people better. We have bought mattresses and other things for victims who fled their home. We spend it wherever we can for victims.”
Runners and supporters alike had an opportunity to buy raffle tickets and try their hand at one of the many baskets donated by local businesses. Those proceeds did not go to the Victim Witness Program. Instead, Miller and her advocates were trying to raise money for the Preble County Cops & Kids Annual Christmas event.
Each year, police officers go to Walmart with children in need to buy them necessities and Christmas presents. Monies used for this program are donated.
The raffle at the Victim Witness 5K Walk/Run is just one way the Fraternal Order of Police, Floyd E. Spitler Lodge #158 raises money for the program.
“[Local police officers] do so much for us and they also work with victims of crime. We work very closely together with Eaton Police Division and the Preble County Sheriff’s Department. A lot of the children they help, we also have worked with in some way or another. We want to give back and help those children as well,” Miller said.
For participants Anjanette Heck and Mark Booso, this was why they participated in the 5K Walk/Run — to support the Victim Witness Program and the Cops & Kids event.
“What they support is a very good thing for the children in the area and the police officers,” Booso said. “Every little bit of support helps, every time.”
Heck added, “It is always nice to help people.”
Allie Shafer is a former employee of the Preble County Victim Witness Program and continues to support the program and their fundraising efforts. Specifically, she wants to continue to support the victims she used to serve.
“[The Victim Witness Program] is important, because it supports the victims, survivors, and their families. It is one of the really unique agencies in Preble County that gets to serve those people,” she said. “The 5K is really important, because it is a healing opportunity for victims, survivors, and the families effected. It is also good for increasing awareness, letting Preble County residents know these services exist and are there.”
Over the last 11 years, the Victim Witness 5K/Run has continued to grow and expand. For Miller, her favorite part of the walk is seeing “her families” and interacting with them.
“I’ve been here 11 years and I’ve worked with a lot of families. You work with them and you become emotionally invested in the families. You get to know them. I love to see them here – this may be the only time I get to see them. It is heartwarming to me to see them, to continue to come and see those families I’ve grown so close to,” she said.
One of these families is the Jerry Mason family, who come out to the Victim Witness 5K/Run every year to support their loved one — a victim of crime who unfortunately lost his life years ago.
“I came out to support the family and all of the victims,” Janine Mason said. “We want to show the support, that he is not forgotten — he still lives in our hearts. The 5K is important, because there are always victims, there is always someone who is a victim.”
Following the race portion of the event, participants returned to the Preble County Courthouse square for a celebration of their accomplishments.
Kevin Johnston, 56, was the overall male winner and Kim Johnston, 48, was the overall female winner.
Sponsors for the event included; Platinum Sponsors: Preble County Sheriff Mike Simpson, Preble County Commissioners, Friends of Mary Lynn Birck, Jill E. Hittle Attorney at Law, Preble County Pork Festival, Dr. Scott and Tammy Vosler, Wints Etc., Eaton Floor & Wall, Inc., Skyline Chili, Universal Construction, Eaton Supply Company, Preble County Ace Hardware, Bales Funeral Home, SIlfex, Meraki Lane Boutique, Sheriff-Goslin Roofing, Wood Propane Corporation, Booso Septic Tank Cleaning, Moon Portable Restrooms, Orr Farms, LCNB National Bank, Freedom TItle Co., Inc., Prodigy Salon and Spa, and Zinks Meats and Fine Wines; Gold: Mark S. Vosler, Shelley M. Barney, Ashley B. Grubb, Hewitt Ross Dental, Roselius Insurance Agency, Inc., Carl & Kathi Petelle at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, Just Teasin’ Salon, West Elkton United Methodist Women, Alpha Kappa Sorority, Your Flower Shop, John’s Tires, and Walmart; Silver Sponsors: Twin Valley Bank and Lawn Plus LLC.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH