Two nights ago my sister and I attended a fantastic event, Runway to Freedom, a benefit fashion show and auction for victims of domestic violence at Mary’s Place. It was founded by Lauren Grinnell of Lala’s Cuts in 2010 and this was the 6th year. I was asked to donate a weekend stay at my Ocean Shores house, which I gladly did. Putting an end to domestic violence and helping survivors is one of my passions, so I was happy to be a part of this event.
The gala event was held at Sodo Park and included cocktails (no host bar), dessert bar from Cupcake Royale, shoe shines from Old Style Shoe Shine, pictures for VIPs, and musical performances, as well as the fashion show and live auction. Danielle Leigh of King5 was the main host, JJ Mckay, board chair for Mary’s Place, hosted the fashion show, and the auction was done by Stokes Auction House. There were also three speakers sharing the serious side of the event.
The first speaker was Roy Fisher, a counselor who works with domestic violence abusers. With his commanding presence at 6’8” tall, he briefly told of his journey to becoming a counselor of abusers and how others ask “how can you work with them?” He admitted that it is a little scary at times but very important work. He told us how abusers, mostly men, have not been taught empathy so when they hurt someone else they are basically detached from it. We treat boys and girls differently when they get hurt as children. Little girls are coddled and comforted, but little boys are told to get up and shake it off. Their feelings are often denied so they are lost. In his groups Roy gets the abusers to feel again so that they can regain empathy. I thought what he had to say was extremely important for all of us to know and understand so that we can make a change. After he was done and everyone clapped, I told my sister that he deserved a standing ovation. I wish that I had initiated it myself. I did go up to him after the event and thanked him for what he said.
The next speaker was the brother of a victim who was killed by her abuser. Unfortunately I don’t remember his name. He displayed a picture of his sister on the screen behind him while speaking. He started out by saying that we can’t really pick out what an abuser looks like and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all profile. He didn’t see his sister’s “killer” as a threat and even described taking his one year old daughter out of the “killer’s” arms, before he knew he was a “killer”. He shared the disturbing story of how she was killed when she broke up with her “killer” in public at the beach. She was shot three times with a shotgun; once in the back while walking away, once in the head while on the ground, and one more time after already dead. The witnesses reported it happening like in slow motion. There were red flags and signs but these were dismissed, as they often are. His speech was articulate yet emotional, and touched us all.
Later at the side of Mary’s Place executive director Marty Hartman, an abuse victim shared her story and how Mary’s Place helped her to survive and become stronger. Again this was emotionally charged but very important to hear and know there is a way out.
To keep things fun there were three musical performers for the night; Jairemie Alexander, Draze, and Kimberly Nichole. Each had a different flavor and style, but all were fabulous!
One of the biggest highlights of the evening was the fashion show. The show started with the kids modeling fashions from Zulily, with the assistance of Wanz dancing and directing the kids on and off the stage. Lot’s of fun here! Following were fashions from House of Gina Marie, Julie Danforth, and Justin Zachary, each showing lots of glitz and glamour for the holidays.
And, of course, the auction. There were several fabulous packages to bid on but all were well out of my price range. Most bidding started at $500. I think the highest going was the Maui package that went for $4000 I think, and there were two Dave Mathews concert at the Gorge packages that went for about $3400 each. I could be off on those amounts but I remember numbers like that. The one package that I was interested in was a Jimi Hendrix/Northwest Music set that included a large painting of Jimi in red and black. My son would have really liked that. But not this year.
I’m glad I got to go. My sister and I had fun, learned some things, and helped a little. Hopefully more people will become aware of the serious nature of domestic violence and how we can all do a little to help prevent it. If you can attend next year I would highly recommend it. In the meantime there is a lot of ways we can all help. Mary’s Place is always in need of donations and volunteers. Or find a shelter local to you that you can help. If you are in an unsafe situation, or know someone who is, reach out to the crisis clinic, shelter, or police if needed. You can also find out more about domestic violence and abuse at Mary Kay’s Don’t Look Away site, the National Network to End Domestic Violence,. and in here Washington state