Oak Parkers run Marathon to end domestic violence

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By Community Editor

The Dominican University community has teamed up to help the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women's Network run domestic violence out of town.

The community has raised more than $6,200 in recognition of faculty members Charlie Stoops, John Jenks and Esmail Bonakdarian and director of English Language Services (ELS) Andres Gonzalez, who will run on behalf of the Network in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon on Sunday, October 13.

The Network is a collaborative membership organization dedicated to putting an end to society's tolerance of domestic violence in all forms.

President Donna M. Carroll challenged the community to raise $500 to pledge for the cause, and, in turn, Dominican would contribute $1,000, with an additional personal pledge from President Carroll. In less than 30 minutes, the challenge was met. In less than 30 days, Dominican became the number one fundraiser for the Network. Dozens of faculty made donations.

Elizabeth Ritzman, director of the wellness center, donated "in honor of all the silent victims of domestic violence who have ever walked the halls of Dominican University—in the past, and sadly, the future. May they find every necessary resource 100 times for every mile run by our team."

President Carroll saw her pledge as reflecting both her personal commitment to the issue and Dominican's mission.

"Not only is the run a strong statement of our mission, but I'm also personally attuned to the issue of domestic violence," Carroll said. "We're all particularly supportive of seeing a change in the way people treat one another."

The runners know that every step they take has purpose. Every dollar they raise will help improve the lives of those impacted by domestic violence.

"Violence against women is still very much alive in this world and in this country," said Cheryl Johnson-Odim, provost and vice president of academic affairs. "Like measles or breast cancer, it is a matter of health and needs funding to give each of us the tools to eradicate it."

The four runners certainly will have the cheers to motivate them when they take their marks in Grant Park.

The marathon will bring them 26.2 miles and $6,228 closer to change. The donations from the Dominican community will support the Network's coalition of nine domestic violence service agencies in and around metropolitan Chicago—including the Center for Advancing Domestic Peace (CADP), which was co-founded by Stoops.

"This is the fourth year of a 10-year effort I began in support of the Center for Advancing Domestic Peace and the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women's Network," Stoops said.

"This year's overwhelming support of our team's efforts will keep me motivated throughout the 26.2 miles, and will provide inspiration for the next 6 years of what is now truly a community-wide effort to support the women, children and men impacted by domestic violence in the Chicago-land area."

Jenks and his wife, who works for Metropolitan Family Services, one of the nine organizations the team is raising money for, have been training for the marathon since March. He has been running since high school and regularly runs 5K and 10K races.

"Charlie and I work together, and this run is for such an amazing cause," Gonzalez said. "I'm happy to be a part of it."

Gonzalez ran cross-country in high school and has been running ever since. He and Bonakdarian have both run in several marathons, and both agree that this one is special.

"The way the Dominican community responded really demonstrates that we truly live the mission of Caritas," Stoops said. "We truly are a community in the Sinsinawa tradition, and we support both our Dominican brothers and sisters and our brothers and sisters in need in Chicago."

Those interested in contributing to the cause may do so at crowdrise.com/RunDVOutofTown21/fundraiser/charlesstoops.

For more information contact: Charlie Stoops - cstoops@dom.edu

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