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article imageLuminaria Run against domestic and sexual violence Special

By Justin King     Dec 9, 2013 in World
Destin - Shelter House of Northwest Florida presented the Luminaria Run to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, an annual run held at sunset, this weekend. The proceeds go to help fund the organization’s operations and efforts in aiding victims.
The Luminaria Run, in its third year, features a 5k and a 9k run through Destin, Florida. The path is lit for the runners with thousands of electronic candles glowing inside white paper bags. The Luminaria run attracts runners from all over North Florida, with participants this year coming from as far away as Tallahassee.
Shelter House volunteers setting up for the race.
Shelter House volunteers setting up for the race.
Prior to the race, which began at the City Hall Annex, DJ Mike Whitty entertained those limbering up for the run, raffle tickets were sold, and the first look at silent auction items donated by area businesses occurred. Santa made an appearance and handed out candy to the younger runners and spectators. Runners also adorned themselves with glow sticks or lights.
Santa s appearance was well received by kids of all ages.
Santa's appearance was well received by kids of all ages.
This year, the race’s route wound through streets in the heart of Destin. The streets remained open during the race, and Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Deputies were on hand to pace the runners and ensure their safety. The 9k race began at 4:30pm and the 5k began a few minutes later, once runners from the first start were clear. The participants were guided along the route by the glowing bags lighting their way, reminded of why they were running by signs featuring profiles of those killed in domestic violence situations, and encouraged by profiles of survivors. The race also featured an Angel Mile that honored all the unnamed victims of domestic violence, and the loved ones they left behind.
Memorial sign for Ashley Duke on the route.
Memorial sign for Ashley Duke on the route.
The two named people remembered by the race this year were Amber H. Ayers (1983 – 2012) and Ashley A. Duke (1984 – 2013).
Also along the road were statistics reflecting the effects of domestic violence. Shelter House’s website contains a listing of the statistics. According to the site,
One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
In 70 – 80% of intimate partner homicides, no matter which partner was killed, the man physically abused the woman before the murder.
On average more than three women and one man are murdered by their intimate partners in this country every day.
An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.
After the race, participants arrived at an after party hosted by Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. The outdoor party featured a tent, where meals and drinks were served. Outside, runners were able to work out cramps with free massages, and make s’mores around a fire pit.
S mores after the race.
S'mores after the race.
As the evening progressed, awards were given to runners, a silent auction was conducted, and raffle prizes were given away.
Shelter House is a non-profit, state-certified domestic violence center serving victims of domestic violence in Okaloosa and Walton counties. Services provided include a 24-hour hotline, crisis counseling, advocacy, outreach, primary prevention, transitional housing and confidential shelter.
Full Disclosure: The writer was close friends with one of the victims remembered this year, and actively supports Shelter House activities.
Sign along the route of the 2013 Shelter House Luminaria Run remembering Amber Ayers.
Sign along the route of the 2013 Shelter House Luminaria Run remembering Amber Ayers.
Glow sticks adorn this Luminaria race participant.
Glow sticks adorn this Luminaria race participant.
The opening seconds of the 9K portion of the Luminaria Run.
The opening seconds of the 9K portion of the Luminaria Run.
Finishing strong after dark.
Finishing strong after dark.
5K runners near the starting line.
5K runners near the starting line.
The  Glowiest  runner collects his prize.
The "Glowiest" runner collects his prize.
Sponsors of the 2013 Luminaria Run to End Domestic and Sexual Violence.
Sponsors of the 2013 Luminaria Run to End Domestic and Sexual Violence.
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