EATON – The Preble County Victim Witness 5K may have moved from National Crime Victims’ Week in April to Sunday, Sept. 25, but many still turned out in support of the program.
The move was inspired by Preble County’s recurring bad weather in April, and the hope was that September would bring a nicer run. The weather was beautiful as the participants ran down Eaton’s roads. They ran from the Preble County Courthouse, to Fort St. Clair, through Mound Hill Cemetery, and back to the courthouse — all in support of the program which provides help to survivors of violent crime.
Brenda Miller acts as the director of the Preble County Victim Witness program.
According to Miller, the 5K was developed eight years ago in order to bring recognition to the program. “It was also a way for our families, who have lost a member to a crime, to be able to come together with other families because they have something in common and to walk – or run – in their memory,” she said.
“So a lot of our families will come and they’ll wear t-shirts that they’re walking in memory of somebody. That was why it was created to start with. With the proceeds we try to help victims of crime’s survivors down the road if we can.”
Sunday’s program started with a 1K walk/run for children ages 12 and under. Three children participated for $15 apiece. They earned $45 to donate to the Preble County Kids and Cops program, meant to support families in need during the Christmas holiday.
Some 28 people registered for the main race, with 26 participating. Approximately $575 was raised from the event, with platinum sponsors donating $100.
Anyone can participate in the run, as it’s open to the public, but it is targeted towards family members of the Victim Witness program.
Many participated to support the office and support families. There were even several “fitness junkies” who just found a local 5K and wanted to get a workout in — but at the heart of the event were the families of the victims.
One such family was the large and supportive one of Jerry Mason (1964-2013). Mason was shot by his girlfriend’s 24-year old-son after a long history of arguments. The Victim Witness program helped the family get through Mason’s shocking death.
Representing Mason at the 5K was a team made up of Melanie Burke, Darlene Mason, Susan Holbrook, Kimberly Brown, Jane Martin, Gary Burke, Samantha Bennett, Jeff Bennett, Denise Lawson, Benjamin Lawson, Evan Lawson, Janie Mason, Emma Bennett, Jennifer Webb, and Betty Webb.
They were by far the largest family participating in this year’s run. They wore “In Loving Memory” shirts to stand out as the family of Mason.
This is not the first year the family participated in the run, having also taken part the previous year. The family did a mixture of walking, running, and observing.
They come in order to represent Mason and stand together as a family.
“They are special people,” Melanie Burke, Mason’s sister, said of the Victim Witness program and it’s advocates. “It took three years for it to go to trial, for my brother, and they were wonderful. They supported Mom, they were at our house, every time it came to court they were there holding our hands. They were amazing.”
Platinum sponsors included Jill E. Hittle, Attorney at Law, David Biggs Insurance, Dr. Scott and Tammy Vosler, Henny Penny Corp., Lawn Plus LLC., Wings Etc., Eaton Floor & Wall, Somerville National Bank, The Timken Steel Corp., Preble County Commissioners Creech, Day, Robertson, and Gebhart Counseling Solutions LLC.
Gold sponsors included Preble County Sheriff Mike Simpson, Craig A. Hewitt D.D.S., West Elkton United Methodist Women, Jill B. Vosler D.O., LCNB National Bank, Eaton Bar Bell, Twin Valley Bank, and Mark S. Vosler D.O.
The singular Silver sponsor was Steinke Tractor Sales, Inc.
Ava Clark, age 10, won the 5K with a time of 25:40, while Samuel Dehart, age 8, was the “Male Overall Winner,” coming in 8th place with a time of 26:51.
The Victim Witness Division is a part of the Preble County Prosecutor’s Office. The program provides 24/7 on-call response to crime victims and their families, response to crime scenes and hospitals, assistance with protection order applications and court advocacy for victims, acting as a liaison between victims of crime, their families, and the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney. The program also provides service referrals and notification of victims of court hearings and other court-related appearances.
The Victim Witness program also “offers support to grieving victims and their families by hosting events during the annual Victim Rights Awareness Week.” During this week a candle-light vigil is held on the second floor of the courthouse “in remembrance of our victims of crime and their families.”