Race Director with Personal Connection to Domestic Violence Keeps Fundraiser Going

Monday, April 9, 2018, 7:32 am
Jessy Gregg

Above: Jon Kermiet (left) and Race for the Place

There is still time to register for the 24th annual Race for the Place 5K, to be held this Sunday, April 15, on MSU’s campus to benefit MSU Safe Place, a unique, on-campus domestic violence shelter and resource center available to help students, staff and local community members who are experiencing stalking or domestic violence.

For Race Director Jon Kermiet, the cause is close to his heart: he lost his younger sister to domestic violence.

Kermiet tells ELi, “It was something that I felt personally touched by, motivated to assist in any way I could. Even after I retired [from MSU], I decided that I would still help with the race.”

Before retirement, Kermiet was an Education Specialist at MSU’s Olin Health Center, and he says part of that job involved building connections with other local health organizations. He has been involved with this annual fundraising fun run since its inception.

Alyssa Bauman, the Volunteer and Advocacy Coordinator at Safe Place says she doesn’t know of another domestic violence shelter that is located on a college campus. Yet according to the National Coalition against Domestic Violence, women between the ages of 18 and 24 are most likely to be victims of domestic assault.

We shelter approximately 35-50 adults and children each year and about 80-100 individuals receive counseling, support groups and/or advocacy each year. In 2017, we provided 4,144 days of safe shelter,” Bauman told ELi via email. Race for the Place is the organization’s largest fundraiser.

“It’s not the biggest race in the area by any means, but it is one of the biggest,” said Kermiet. “We try to do a big promotion on campus to try to get as many students as possible because it’s not only one of Safe Place’s major fundraising events, but it is one of the major publicity events, trying to educate students that Safe Place is there.”

This year, race organizers expect 850 people to participate, but they would like to increase that number to 1,000 if possible.

In addition to the 5K run, and children’s races, there will be a display of t-shirts from the Clothesline Project inside Jenison Fieldhouse where the race begins and finishes. All the t-shirts on display will have been decorated by victims of domestic violence or made in honor of someone who has experienced violence, to educate and spread awareness about the problem.

Many people who are victimized by intimate partner violence are not aware they are experiencing relationship violence,” said Holly Rosen, director of MSU Safe Place.

Kermiet emphasized that needing to run at a slower pace is not a reason to avoid this race, and that at least one-third of annual participants are walkers.

For more information on registering, or for information on MSU Safe Place’s services, visit the Safe Place website.