Virtual 5K raises awareness of sexual assault

Local News

PEORIA, Ill. (WYZZ)– Getting active, keeping your distance and raising money for a cause; that was the goal of a virtual 5K hosted by the Center for Prevention of Abuse.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness month and according to Center for Prevention of Abuse someone is a victim of sexual assault every 90 seconds. On Saturday, the Center for Prevention of Abuse held its’ third annual 5K marathon to raise awareness and bring attention to the issue.

“Unfortunately, abuse doesn’t stop when the rest of the world does,” said Center for Prevention of Abuse CEO, Carol Merna.

Saturday’s 5K marathon brings awareness of sexual assault to the forefront of people’s minds.

“Hopefully by raising awareness, it provides a sense of comfort for those survivors that are not ready to come forward yet,” said the center’s director of domestic violence programs, Frances Reyes.

The race is usually held in a group setting, but due to current COVID-19 restrictions, participants ran their own race at their own pace and in their own space.

“Everyone is taking pictures of themselves walking, and tweeting and updating their Facebook status and sending in videos and Snapchats of everything they’re doing,” said CFPA board member and 5K participant, Stephanie Alkhafaji.

Frances Reyes, a mother of three boys says it is an event her whole family participates in.

“I include my family primarily my boys because I want them to grow up knowing that these are important issues, that there is help and resources like the Center for Prevention of abuse to help survivors,” Reyes said.

While some looked to get the fastest time or set personal goals, others took walks with their dogs and loved ones.

“It’s a great way to support the center while still enjoying sometime with family and friends,” Alkhafaji said.

Carol Merna says sexual assault does not discriminate and can happen to everyone.

“It can happen to any age, any race, culture or profession. It can happen to anyone of us,” Merna said.

She hopes events like the 5K raise awareness and hope for survivors of sexual assault.

All entry fees from Saturday’s marathon went towards the center and allows them to offer the free of charge programs that they offer.

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