ZCenter staff posing with guest speaker, Olympic Gold Medalist and sexual abuse survivor, Kayla Harrison. (Posted By Jamie Somerville, Community Contributor)
Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center, Lake County’s only rape crisis center, was humbled and honored to celebrate their 30th anniversary last Saturday with over 200 of their supporters at Briarwood Country Club in Deerfield. All proceeds from the evening went directly toward supporting ZCenter’s comprehensive counseling, advocacy and prevention education services for Lake County. The 30th Anniversary Gala included dinner, dancing, live/silent auctions and a moving program that highlighted the prevalence of sexual assault and abuse as well as inspired attendees to take action against this silent epidemic.
ZCenter’s Executive Director, Amy Junge, described the gala as a “gathering of friends—both old and new— coming together and shine light on an issue that no one wants to talk about. Statistically we are all affected by this horrific crime, directly or indirectly; whether we realize it or not. The room was filled with passionate and courageous individuals who were there to make a difference.”
A highlight of the evening for all involved was guest speaker, Kayla Harrison. The Olympic Gold Medalist shared her story of survival in the aftermath of years of abuse by her judo coach with poise, bravery and openness. ZCenter’s Assistant Executive Director, Adam Robinson, felt that she particularly resonated with the room “when she charged all of us to be for survivors in our lives what the Pedros [her current judo coach and his family after she disclosed her abuse] were for her – supportive and life-saving … her unscripted approach made it easy for guests to connect with her story and message.”
Junge expands upon that by sharing that “the most inspiring part of Kayla’s story, for me, was her strength and courage to come forward and to persevere through her sport even though she was abused by a former coach. It reminded me of the power we all have to make a difference. Her current coach saved her life by acknowledging what happened to her and encouraging her to reach her potential” and that’s something we can all aspire to do.
During the live auction portion of the program, guests had the opportunity to support various ZCenter programs, including Prevention Education in Lake County schools. Indeed, Director of Development and Stewardship, Stephanie Garrity, felt most proud “looking up and just seeing a sea of bidder paddles raised to support sexual abuse prevention services in schools.”
Junge perhaps summarized it best in her remarks during the event: “We [came] together tonight to celebrate 30 years of excellence. We are all here because we care about our families. We care about our communities and we share a commitment to ending sexual violence in our world. Together we are fearless. And like you Kayla, we never give up. We will always be here for survivors and our community as long as we are needed.”
Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center looks forward supporting survivors of sexual violence and making strides toward eradicating it for the next 30 years.
By POSTED BY JAMIE SOMERVILLE and COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTOR
NOV 04, 2013 AT 3:47 PM