Marathon in Kent in memory of Tami Mitchell Wong raises funds for domestic violence


Runners participate in the On My Own Two Feet Marathon on Saturday April 20, 2013. The run was a fundraiser that supported local survivors of domestic violence. Photo courtesy of Andrea Whaley.

Kate Kelly

The “On Your Own Two Feet” Marathon and Half Marathon over the weekend raised money for domestic violence in honor of Tami Mitchell Wong.

On Saturday, runners gathered at Beckwith Orchards on the Portage Bike and Hike at 9 a.m. to run their choice of a full marathon or half marathon. The morning started with tributes including a balloon release for domestic violence victims, a moment of silence for the victims in the Boston Marathon and a special dedication speech to Tami Mitchell Wong.

Wong, a wife and mother of two, lost her life to domestic violence when she was stabbed to death by her husband in their Twinsburg home last February.

Melissa Cairns, a survivor of domestic violence and head of the marathon, had a special connection with this story.

“Tami was a friend of my friends,” Cairns said. “I became very involved with the situation after it happened. It upset me a lot more than I thought it would, and I became so emotionally involved. I really felt like I knew some of the things she was probably feeling.”

Cairns uses her knowledge and experience in domestic violence to help the community daily. She volunteers at Cleveland shelters on the hotline to help people stuck in a domestic violence situation.

“This marathon is a way for me to use my passion for running and my past experiences together to better the community,” Cairns said. “We are passionate about things we understand. My situation shaped my life and forced me to grow into a stronger person. I hope to be able to do that for other people.”

Runners came through the finish line one by one with sighs of relief. As they lied on the ground, they congratulated one another on finishing the race.

Andrea Whaley, senior integrated health studies major, ran her first half marathon that cold morning finishing at her goal time of two hours and 30 minutes.

“When I started to see cars and I knew the finish line was right ahead, I’ve never been so happy,” Whaley said.

Whaley said she ran the marathon because she works with women at health services that have been in such situations.

“Domestic violence isn’t a good cycle, and it is a cycle I want to break,” Whaley said.

Top three finishers received prizes and gift certificates to Second Sole. All runners in the race received Nike long-sleeved tech shirts and goody bags.

“My main purpose is to shatter the silence about such an uncomfortable silence,” Cairns said. “The more we talk about it, the less it will occur.”

All proceeds and donations from the marathon went to local shelters for survivors of domestic violence around the Cleveland areas.

Kate Kelly is the off-campus entertainment reporter for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].