ST. CROIX — Wedged between graduations and summer parties, the first weekend in June for the last 36 years has been the Women’s Coalition’s Women’s Race. This year, for the second time because of the lingering risks of the global coronavirus pandemic, the annual fundraiser was not held this past weekend, but will instead be a virtual event in August.
This year, the Women’s Coalition of St. Croix would have been hosting its 37th annual event along with the year-long celebration of its 40th anniversary as a community partner and advocate against violence. Coalition Executive Director Clema Lewis said the coalition’s leadership continues to be grateful to the community for supporting the race for close to four decades. Despite the pandemic, they are hoping to still raise money to support programs that help victims of violence in the community.
Debra Benjamin, communications coordinator for the Coalition, said it was once again a tough decision to make the event virtual again, but organizers had to keep the safety and health of everyone as a priority. “While this is the second year we are doing it fully virtual, it will not be forever,” she said. “It won’t be forever, just this second year, but we are slowly getting back to normal and soon we will be in our usual time slot and in person as well.”
With the race moving to August, Benjamin said those participating will have a full week to register and complete their 2-mile walk, run or jog from wherever they are in the world.
“Registration and walks can begin on Aug. 22 and end on Aug. 29,” she said. “The buzz is out there, we have had people calling and asking about the race happening, they are ready and now they can rally more support and be here with us in a few months.”
Benjamin said the community support is what keeps the event and the organization alive and those efforts and support should be commended.
She said the coalition commends the community for the work that they have been doing continuously and for making the race a successful event year after year.
“The support sends a message that resonates: ‘We are all a little damaged, I survived this situation that was supposed to break me and I am here to talk about it,’ ” she said. “It tells the story that we are all stronger together.”
The overall message of the Women’s Coalition, according to Benjamin, is to always emphasize the movement for peace, healing and hope and send a message to spread love and end violence of all kinds in our community.
Women are encouraged to sign up as individuals, but also coordinate with members of their social groups, sororities, friends circle, families, schools, churches, clubs, businesses and more to start and join a team. Registration is $20 per person and $10 for persons with financial hardship. Girls pay $1.
As they did for the last two years, the coalition is asking participants about their individual experiences and asking them to post them to its social media pages.
“We really want to see what people are doing to prepare, and on race day,” Benjamin said. “We are even on TikTok now, so we want to hear and see their short videos about why they decided to participate or any other fun or inspirational information they want to share.”