USF Health hosts virtual 5K to support Harrell Center for the Study of Family Violence

The first ever “Run Family Violence Out of Tampa Bay” 5K will be held virtually April 17-18 to raise money to support the Harrell Center for the Study of Family Violence’s research and its community application. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

Whether one runs, jogs or walks, the College of Public Health is encouraging anyone willing to go outdoors to participate in its first virtual “Run Family Violence Out of Tampa Bay” 5K while raising awareness and supporting research on family violence.

USF Health is partnering with the College of Public Health’s Harrell Center for the Study of Family Violence to host the “Run Family Violence out of Tampa Bay,” a virtual 5K event focusing on raising awareness and money for the Harrell Center which aims to strengthen community responses to family violence.

This virtual 5K will take place the weekend of April 17-18 to allow participants to complete the course in a timely manner, either by running, walking, jogging or rolling.

Registration for the 5K opened in mid-March and will close April 15. There is no limit to the number of people who can participate.

The virtual event costs $25 and participants will receive a T-shirt. All the proceeds will be donated to the Harrell Center. Participants can donate more than $25, and can even be considered “green” or “gold” sponsors if they donate $500 or $1,000, respectively.

Since the 5K will be held virtually, the race will be viewed as noncompetitive with no winner. The amount of miles participants run or walk will not be tracked, but will be based on an honor system. Participants can choose where and how they want to complete this 5K, whether that be running in their neighborhoods or taking a walk with friends.

To be accounted for the 5K, runners must post a “sweaty selfie” wearing the T-shirt to social media with the hashtags #RunOutViolence and #Harrell5K attached to the post.

Kara Steiner, senior director of Development in the Office of Development and Alumni Relations at USF, organized the event to raise awareness and contribute to the Harrell Center’s research and outreach. She said the donations will be used to help the Harrell Center perform projects, including setting up interviews with survivors, developing research about nearby communities and helping the community engage with each other.

“It is $25, but it’s a $25 donation. It processes through our foundation, they receive a tax receipt, and all that $25 goes 100% to the Harrell Center for [the Study of] Family Violence,” Steiner said.

The idea for the 5K came out of Steiner going to the Harrell Center and meeting with its leadership, who emphasized the need for an increase in attention and more donations, as the center has run on donations since its establishment 25 years ago.

“I was introduced to [Director of the Harrell Center Abraham Salinas] … because he was appointed, newly, the director, months ago,” Steiner said. “He asked me to join a board meeting, and the board for the health center was saying, ‘We just need money. I mean we’ve got all these expenses to do all the wonderful things we’re doing, but we don’t have a lot of funding.’”

Salinas conveyed the importance of this center and how much of an impact it makes on the community.

“We meet pretty much every month to talk about system challenges like for example, how do we improve protection orders for survivors, how do we facilitate victims assistance services for them, how can we connect with each other,” Salinas said.

The Harrell Center strives to develop knowledge with practice to reinforce the importance of community responses to family violence. The center connects academia with practice by connecting community organizations with a variety of research such as studies into childhood exposure to intimate partner violence so the findings can be practically applied in the community, Salinas said.

“It is a mutual benefit, a mutual benefit for the community but also to the university,” he said.

“For example, a student in public health, being one experience, they want to be able to use all the skills that they learn in the classroom, research analysis, program development program evaluation training, community engagement, they want to use all of that by matching the community needs.”

With this being the first year the virtual 5K is taking place, Steiner hopes it will become an annual event due to the impact it will leave on Harrell Center. She said there are high hopes to keep this event around for further years and even have it remain virtual as a way to raise funds while spreading awareness about the center.

The awareness this event could potentially bring to the Harrell Center could be a game changer, Steiner said. The 5K is especially important now because rates of domestic violence have increased since the pandemic began and continues to keep people isolated or in their homes with their abusers, according to Steiner.

“I think the awareness of [family violence in homes] right now is sadly at a peak,” she said. “People are realizing that it’s more of a problem than maybe they realize because it has increased in both frequency and severity, with people being on lockdown and stuff, obviously more so in other parts of the country.”

The feedback from this 5K can eventually promote the Harrell Center to become a more prominent presence on campus, Steiner said.

“[Family violence] is a major issue and I think a lot of people didn’t realize that we have this center right here at the USF College of Public Health, right in our own backyard,” she said.