Women of all ages – grandmothers and little girls, aunts and sisters – gathered Sunday afternoon for the annual Women’s Coalition of St. Croix Women Race to focus attention on domestic violence.
The 29th annual race took place on the streets of downtown Christiansted.
While the event is for women, the goal of the Women’s Coalition is to end violence against women, men and children throughout the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Clema Lewis, Women’s Coalition executive director and coordinator of the Women Race, said some of the participants in the race were themselves survivors and victims of abusive relationships.
“This is an opportunity for women in the community to come together,” Lewis said.
About 200 participants ran, walked or jogged the route. Mothers ran while pushing their babies in strollers.
The event began with a pre-race warm-up exercise provided by Zumba Fitness. Though the music frequently cut out due to technical problems, the dancers had more than enough energy to make up for it, shaking their hips and swinging their hands. Occasionally bystanders got hooked by the music and joined the racers on the road.
Then the racers hit the road, starting in front of the Scale House on Hospital Street and following a two-mile path on Spring Gut Road, up Hospital Street, to Times Square on King Street and ending back in front of the Scale House.
Although men did not take part in the race, there were many on hand, helping out and cheering the women and girls along the race route.
Attorney Lydia Moolenaar, running with her daughter Julissa Moolenaar, came out to support the Women’s Coalition’s continuous good work in the community.
“The Women’s Coalition plays an important role in the community,” she said.
Marti Tribolet said she has been taking part in the race for six years and would not miss this year’s event.
“I think the race is a good experience and worthwhile,” Tribolet said.
She also likes the support of the community. Tribolet said the St. Croix economy has no space for any more stress on women.
Lewis said more than 40 volunteers helped with the event, and all of the staff at the Women’s Coalition lent a hand. She also thanked Sen. Sammuel Sanes for volunteering his time every year.
Lewis said the sponsors made the race a reality.
The Women’s Coalition of St. Croix is celebrating 32 years of providing services to men, women and children suffering from abuse in the Virgin Islands, Lewis said.
“We help all victims, 24 hours, 365 and every day of the year,” Lewis said.
Race sponsors included: Bank of St. Croix, Virgin Islands Pace Runners, Marshall & Sterling’s, Banco Popular, T.E.A.M Consultants, Domino’s Pizza, Coca Cola, and Diageo. Caribbean Printing made the banners and Frame Up provided supplies.
The race also promoted Women’s Coalition Clothing Line Project which allowed women to write their thoughts about abusive relationships on T-shirts.
Lewis said the project allowed the women to become “oral and artistic.”
The top finishers received trophies and medals.