By Diana Bowley, BDN Staff: DEXTER, Maine — Neither the threat of thundershowers nor the heat deterred the more than 700 people who participated in the first annual Amy, Coty, Monica Memorial Race and Walk Sunday to raise awareness for domestic abuse.
Organizer Kelly Gay, a teacher at Ridge View Community School in Dexter who was a close friend of Amy Lake, said more than $10,000 was raised during the event. Half of the proceeds will be donated to the Amy, Coty, Monica Scholarship Fund and half to Womancare, a community-based organization working to end domestic violence.
Amy, 38, Coty, 13, and Monica, 12, were shot and killed on June 13 by Steven Lake, 37, Amy's estranged husband and the children's father. Steven Lake later committed suicide at the murder scene.
While the family is deceased, everyone who knew Amy, Coty and Monica are left with warm and wonderful memories.
"This helps keep their memory alive," Alexis Annis, 14, of Harmony, said of Sunday's walk. Annis said she recently had knee surgery and was in a little pain but she was determined to walk in remembrance of the Lake family. "We were close friends and it means a lot to me," she said, as she tried to keep tears from forming in her eyes.
Alex, her mother Nichole Annis and her sister Kayli Annis, 12, said they pictured the smiling faces of Amy, Coty and Monica in their minds as they walked. Nichole said if Amy were alive she would have been running in the event giving everyone encouragement. "I know they're up there cheering us on," she said. Like other participants, the Annis family wore bright purple t-shirts bearing a photo of Amy, Coty and Monica.
Susan Belanger of Garland and her daughter, Grace, 12, walked Sunday to honor the "amazing family." Susan said she taught with Amy Lake at Lake View Community School and Amy taught two of her three children. "She was just an amazing woman," Susan recalled.
In addition to the Dexter race, Gay said there were 30 virtual races being held throughout the country in the Lake family's memory, including one her aunt was participating in in North Carolina.
Many of Amy Lake's relatives also participated in the event, most wearing T-shirts that carried the following message: "Our family chain is broken and nothing seems the same but as God calls us one by one, our chain will link again."
While the race was another event to recognize the loss this community has felt, it also was to draw more attention to domestic violence. Vendors were on hand to offer information on domestic abuse help, and other events were geared toward children.
Changes need to be made in domestic violence laws to prevent such a thing from happening again, Susan McCormick of Dexter said Sunday. She and about 10 family member and friends participated in the event. McCormick said Amy Lake was an "awesome" person.
Gay was pleased with the turnout. "I'm just blown away by the results," she said. "It's amazing, I'm just very happy."
The only way a difference can be made is if everyone works together to make it happen, according to Gay. She said the event was not only for Amy, Coty, and Monica but all of those people who suffer in silence from domestic abuse. Her motto is: "Together we can make a difference."
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