The need for Delray Beach’s haven for victims of domestic abuse has multiplied in 2013.
In the past twelve months, the shelter run by AVDA (Aid to Victims of Domestic Abuse, Inc.) saw an increase of 40 percent, according to Monique Force, AVDA resource development director.
“We’re serving more women than we ever have in our 27-year history,” Force said.
This force of women in need – 400 of whom were served by the emergency shelter in the last year — makes AVDA’s 14th annual Race for Hope fundraiser even more pivotal.
The race, slated for Oct. 12 at Anchor Park in Delray Beach, is expected to draw more than 1,000 runners, walkers, spectators and volunteers from Delray, Boynton Beach, Boca Raton and surrounding areas. The morning of fitness, food, entertainment and fun has seen an increase in attendance every year.
“It is a family fun morning,” said AVDA President and CEO, Pam O’Brien, in a press release. “We try to make it as exciting and upbeat as possible with children’s activities and lots of smiles. Everyone has such a good time, and it’s a beautiful, flat, certified course to run along A1A.”
Proceeds from the Race for Hope benefit AVDA’s 24-hour hotline, emergency shelter and Casa Vegso Transitional housing facility as well as the outreach, educational and prevention programs offered by AVDA throughout Palm Beach County.
AVDA’s Race for Hope challenges local businesses, schools and organizations to form teams and raise funds. Festivities will include music, fun and prizes. The Original Pancake House, one of the many local sponsors, offers a pancake breakfast for both participants and spectators. Liz Quirantes of WPEC CBS 12 will serve as the official mistress of ceremonies for the event.
Officer Rachel Van Ness is the captain of the running team from the Delray Beach police force. She anticipates 20 members of the Delray police squad and staff will jump on board for the cause.
“Domestic abuse is something a lot of people in our society don’t recognize, but it can happen to your neighbor or the person right next to you,” said Van Ness, who will participate in her fourth straight Race for Hope. “If you educate the public, it helps our job in identifying and addressing domestic violence.”
Van Ness won the “Hometown Hero” award at last year’s race for finishing first among all police runners.
The “Hometown Hero” award will once again be given to the fastest male and female police officer and fastest male and female firefighter in the 5K run. All Palm Beach County police officers and firefighters on active duty are eligible to register as a “Hometown Hero.”
To add to the excitement of the day, teams or individuals who raise the most funds are also awarded prizes.
Registration begins at 6:30 a.m., immediately followed by the 5K and 10K at 7:30 and Kid’s Dash at 8:30. Registration prices range from $10 to $25 per person, with all funds going to AVDA. There’s also a “no sweat” donation for those who choose to give money without running.
In addition to the 1,000 runners, volunteers throughout their community donate their time to help set up and run the event. Atlantic High School’s ROTC and college students from Florida Atlantic University are some of the many groups who take part in helping to set up as early as 3 a.m. Myriad volunteer duties include water dispersement and organizing runners.
Last year, black clouds and a rare early-morning shower descended on the race, and more than 1,000 runners kept going as their sweat mixed with raindrops. Sponsors also maintained their presence at the event despite getting soaked.
“It was heartwarming that they would see it through for the sake of the organization and cause,” Force said.
AVDA promotes violence-free relationships and social change by offering alternative choices to end violence and domestic abuse. For more information about AVDA’s services, register for the event or for sponsorship information, visit www.avdaonline.org and click on the “14th Annual Race for Hope” link, or call (561) 265-3797, ext 109.