Mayor’s 5K will help take on gender-based violence

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By Mike McGann, Editor, the Times

DOWNINGTOWN — Working to help fight for victims of gender-based violence is something few could argue with, but for some, it is an issue driven by deeply personal experiences, experiences that force one to take action, rather than sit back.

Borough Mayor Josh Maxwell certainly falls into that latter category. He has been a tireless advocate for victims of such abuse as well as the prevention of it in the first place. so, this week’s announcement that he would sponsor a “Mayor’s 5K to End Gender-Based Violence” is hardly a surprise.

Registration is now open for the Oct. 14 event — with benefits going to the Domestic Violence Center of Chester County, the Crime Victims’ Center of Chester County, and the Chester County Fund for Women and Girls — is another case where Maxwell doesn’t just talk the talk, but walks the walk. He said this is a deeply, deeply personal issue for him — something he feels driven to fight for.

“Multiple women in my life have been sexually assaulted,” Maxwell said. I’ve felt discouraged by not doing more to prevent this behavior in our culture. I’ve devoted time every year to supporting these non-profits, I feel this 5k will rally our community around this important issue.”

While local government has struggled to work to stem the tide of such assaults — and provide resources for victims — it has been non-profits (granted, with state and county funding) that have filled the breach.

“Non-profits are doing the important work on gender-based violence, but because many of the survivors do not have the ability to speak publicly about the abuse because they are parents, have protection from abuse orders or just want to move on with their lives, it’s not in the forefront of our social conscience,” Maxwell said. “That being said, 1 in 4 women are victims of gender-based violence and that is a staggering statistic that applies to every community in our area.  Our non-profits need our help and support to solve this problem.”

While government funds help, they’re not enough — and Maxwell notes that the community at large has to support — and has — these efforts with time and donations.

But as a result, it brings the community closer together — a side benefit of doing good works.

“Downingtown, like every community in Chester County, moves forward economically and socially by working together,” Maxwell said. “We’ve succeeded by putting politics and differences aside for the common good. This is our biggest challenge yet, I think we’re up for it.”

In keeping with that community spirit, the 5k will feature donations from local organizations:  Second Wind Timing will provide the timing, Miller’s Insurance has assisted in providing race insurance, and Downingtown art teachers Laura Roth and Becky Lister created the design for the race t-shirts. The race website was even designed by a local student. Other Downingtown community organizations, including the Downingtown police department, Downingtown Fire Department, and Downingtown Historical Commission, are providing additional support and donations.

The organizing committee is currently accepting sponsorships. For details on how to to register, or inquire about a sponsorship, please visit: www.mayors5k.com.  The race will take place on October 14th on the Struble Trail at 9 am. October is Sexual and Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

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