After months of planning and hard work, Illuminate Austin was a huge success! From the time we decided to bring the walk back after a six year hiatus, SafePlace staff have been saying that the walk is a visual representation of Austin’s support for domestic violence and sexual assault victims and survivors, their families, and for the work we do. Because it was the first year back, we set our goal at 500 attendees, and saw more than 800 people on the day!
We loved seeing how different teams chose to show solidarity. Many came out in their Illuminate Austin T-shirts, or wearing their corporate logos. One team came dressed as superheroes, while others wore shirts that honored family members lost to violence. The contrast felt right for an event that was about memorial and celebration, that had both fun and solemn moments.
Before the walk, many people pinned their own stories, their reasons for walking to Betty’s Wall, the wall honoring the memory of Betty Beal (read Betty’s story here). Those stories on the wall, and all of the people who came on the day, were a visual of how many lives are touched by violence. There were 727 people registered the day before the event, and more showed up to walk on Saturday. The walk is a true community event that anybody could attend. There was a registration fee for those who wanted an Illuminate Austin shirt, but people were also more than welcome to come participate at no cost.
The walk included two loops around Mueller Lake, one in remembrance of victims, and one in celebration of survivors. The first loop of the walk began in the last moments of daylight. As the sun went down, the lights began to glimmer, reflecting off of Mueller Lake, and every part of the pathway around the water was crowded with people committed to ending abuse and violence.
Thanks to the efforts of our amazing teams and participants, we have already exceeded our fundraising goal and the Illuminate Austin donation page will remain live through March. Our volunteer Walk Committee also deserves a shout out for the months they put into bringing back the walk.
We look forward to making this an annual event that gets bigger and better each year.