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Luminaria Run Highlights End To Domestic & Sexual Violence

The Shelter House

Shelter House of Northwest Florida is making final preparations for its 3rd annual "Luminaria Run to End Domestic & Sexual Violence" on Saturday, Dec. 7. The twilight event will be held at the Destin City Hall Annex beginning at 4:30 p.m.

For this year’s Luminaria Run, there’s a 5K and a 9K.

"The 9K is representative of (the fact that) every nine seconds a woman is beaten in the United States," says Michelle Sperzel.

Sperzel is executive director of the Shelter House, which is a non-profit, state certified domestic violence shelter that serves victims of domestic violence in Okaloosa and Walton Counties.

The start line of the run is at the Destin City Hall Annex, and it will take runners through the Indian Bayou neighborhood. The entire route will be lit with more than 2-thousand white luminaria bags, representing how Shelter House and its community partners light the way to a safer place for those impacted by domestic violence.

"It’s a gorgeous run and it’s like running through an entire vigil, because the different bags have individuals’ names on them that people have submitted that they want to have be there in memory of, or in support of, or in honor of. So, it’s a great event," Sperzel says.

As of mid week, approximately 300 runners had pre-registered for the run, with the number expected to be closer to 500 by Saturday. The event is one of many fundraisers held each year by Shelter House, which serves an average of 400-450 people a year in its emergency shelter. The goal is to raise $10 thousand to $15 thousand dollars, while raising awareness about domestic violence in the community.

Even though the purpose is serious, the event also will be festive. In the past, many participants wore domestic violence awareness t-shirts. And, the holiday spirit will be present as well, with many individuals dressing up as Santa and elf costumes.

There will be a glow station, where people can get marked up with different glow paints and tape. And, new for this year is the "Get Your Glow On" Award, which encourages participants to come as lit up as they can for the evening run. Also added for this year is a run expo, which will be held Friday evening from 4-8 at The Palms of Destin. The 3rd Annual "Luminaria Run" will take place Saturday at 4:30 at the Destin City Hall Annex. Packet "pick up" will begin at 2 Saturday. More information is available at www.shelterhousenwfl.org.

As part of its "Women and Money" or WAM! Program, Shelter House of Northwest Florida also will present a Job Search and Resume Building workshop on Saturday, Dec. 7. It’s set for 10 o’clock at the Fort Walton Beach Public Library. This program is free and open to the public. To reserve a seat or for more information, please call 850-243-1201.

Sandra Averhart has been News Director at WUWF since 1996. Her first job in broadcasting was with (then) Pensacola radio station WOWW107-FM, where she worked 11 years. Sandra, who is a native of Pensacola, earned her B.S. in Communication from Florida State University.