Runners jog back the day

Alex Seidler, Staff Reporter

Runners cross the finish line after racing 3.1 miles ‘taking back the day’ in order to raise awareness for sexual assault Saturday.

More than 35 people took part in the 5k including Eastern students, professors, community members and the Coles County Sherriff.

The Sexual Assault Counseling and Information Services hosted the run.

The first, second and third place winners received a medal for their victories.

Marko Mohlenhoff, the president of the board of directors for SACIS, said he felt it was important to him as a man to support a cause like this.

“I feel it’s important to take interest in increasing awareness of sexual assault and its impact on the community,” Mohlenhoff said.

John Dhermy, a community member, said he believes with events like these it helps to bring people to where they can be a part of society again.

“I think we need programs like these, for not just women, but men and children too,” Dhermy said.

While most people came out to support the cause, some also said it was a healthy exercise.

Joycelynn Phillips, a former adviser for Eastern’s Gateway program, said she got to support a cause she believed in and took care of her health.

The 5k winners were divided into age groups of: 20-25, 26-35, 36-45 and 46-55.

Caroline Gabiga, a senior sociology major and intern at SACIS, said she liked running for a cause she supports.

“It’s amazing to see how strong people are after they go through something like that,” Gabiga said. “I’m a strong person, but I consider these people even stronger than me.”

Gabiga won third place in the 20-25 age group and seventh overall for the 5k this year.

Brittany Toolis, a graduate student in communication studies, said the staff was supportive and she believes the cause was very important.

“Being a female and seeing how rape culture is framed on TV and in the media, I believe it is important to see the real side of it and to have resources available for people who need it,” Toolis said.

Toolis said she hopes more people will come out next year because it is a good chance to raise awareness and have fun.

Erin Walters, the executive director of SACIS, said the event had a good turnout and a diverse crowd of participants from community members and students.

“I think we had a beautiful route and the weather couldn’t have been better for the 5k,” Walters said.

Walters said last year’s attendance was around 75 and this year was around 50. Walter said the reason there were less participants this year could have been because of other events that were going on in the community.

The Coles County Clash, an annual football game between Charleston and Mattoon high schools, was Friday night and Walters believes that is one of the reasons more people were not there.

Walter said despite the competition with other events she was pleased with the community members who did join and assist.


Alex Seidler can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]