GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Many of the thousands of Fifth Third River Bank Run participants will break a sweat Saturday for charities.
“From a company perspective I think it’s important as a company to identify a way for your team to participate in something that is bigger than themselves,” said Lawrence Duthler, president and co-owner of Sun Title.
“The goal is to raise $5,000. So what we do is every participant that signs up, the company takes care of the registration. We have race day t-shirts and a lot of fun things, we have a very important pasta dinner the night before and then we ask every participant to raise at least $100 towards the CAC (Children’s Assessment Center),” said Duthler.
As of Saturday morning, Sun Title employees taking part in the run had exceeded their goal by nearly $1,000.
Duthler says he and his wife were looking for a charity to support and get involved in when they found the Children’s Assessment Center.
“I was expecting even the people who work there to be down and to be depressed because you are seeing the worst things of humanity, in reality that is not what you see. What you see is incredible people that love their jobs that see the difference they are making in these children lives,” he explained.
And now Duthler’s whole company supports the organization.
“What we say is we want to hear the story, heal the pain and halt the cycle,” said Susan Shannon, executive director of the Children’s Assessment Center.
>>Inside woodtv.com: Complete coverage of the 2016 Fifth Third River Bank Run | What to know before you go
The CAC has been around for 22 years and was founded by law enforcement officials as a way to bring together resources for children that have been sexually abused.
“Child sexual abuse is not an easy topic to talk about. And we know only one in 15 children report what happen to them. We want to make sure that all children that face child sexual abuse are provided with the care they need to heal and to be happy again,” Shannon said.
All of the CAC’s services are free. In their office they have therapists specially trained in child sexual abuse, detectives, children protective services and medical professionals.
“If we get that child into our center we can go after the bad guy and we can heal the child and the family. Otherwise there are going to be lifelong consequences for that child,” said Shannon.
The center sees about 700 kids from Kent County every year.
Shannon says statistics show 99 percent of sex abuse cases against children involve an offender the child knows; nearly half of those suspects are family members.
As part of their outreach efforts, the CAC sees 23,000 Kent County students a year between kindergarten and fourth grade. They teach the kids safety and how to find a safe adult to talk to.
Shannon says oftentimes after those presentations they have students come forward with stories of abuse.
CAC volunteers say they are grateful for the team running for them Saturday, for the money raised and for the recognition of what they do every day.
“The money is important, but knowing that there are people that value what we do really helps us get through the days. And they know what we’re doing. They appreciate what we’re doing and they know it’s difficult and they are there for us. I can’t tell you what that means,” said Shannon.
The Fifth Third River Bank Run also offers a number of charities runners can help support by making donations during the registration process.
Children’s Assessment Center – http://cac-kent.org
Support a Sun Title runner – https://www.crowdrise.com/suntitle3rdannual201/fundraiser/denisenowak
Fifth Third charities: https://www.53riverbankrun.com/pick-a-cause/