Jessica Martel run enters its third year

by Stephen Dafoe

The tragedy of a woman’s death will be used as the motivation for triumph – the triumph of completing 5- to 10-kilometre runs and the triumph of raising funds to provide safe shelter for victims of abuse. The Jessica Martel Memorial Run, set to take place June 21 pays tribute to the memory of Martel, killed by her common law husband
in April of 2009. Organized by the Jessica Martel Memorial Foundation (JMMF), the group is hoping to raise in excess of $20,000 from the event, monies that will fund various initiatives to support victims of domestic violence.

Laura Hennie, race director for the JMMF event, said the foundation is looking for up to 200 runners as well as about a dozen volunteers for the event. The addition of a 10-km event has increased the number of volunteers needed this year.

“More experienced runners wanted an opportunity to participate in the event,” Hennie said of adding the 10-km portion of the event. “It also provides a challenge to those who did the 5-km run in previous years to work towards a new goal.

We are collaborating with the Town of Morinville to run “learn to run 5-k” and “learn to run 10-k” classes that will lead up to the run.”

You don’t have to be a runner

Though the event is adding a greater challenge this year, level of fitness is not an important prerequisite to participating; walkers and runners are both welcome. The family-friendly event also welcomes children on bikes and moms jogging behind strollers. But even those not walking, running or rolling are invited to come out.

“The goal is to cater to the needs of both runners who are trying to achieve their goals by providing a clear and concisely measured course, while also having a relaxed environment where people can just come out and have fun,” Hennie said. They are offering a reduced rate for youth under 16 to encourage the whole family to participate.

The Jessica Martel Memorial Run takes place June 21, the final day of St. Jean Baptiste Festival 2013. As in previous years, the run will depart from the Provincial Building on 107 Street in Morinville.

The foundation is hoping for continued partnerships and fundraising opportunities in its efforts to support victims of domestic violence. When the event started two years ago, organizers hoped to raise $5,000. They raised four times that amount and matched the tally in the second year. Now in its third year, the run is looking to up the target to $25,000 this year. The monies will be used to carry on the work of the JMMF.

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That work includes an outreach program that provides services and on-going support to (predominantly)
women in domestic violence situations.

The program builds constructive relationships and support networks for JMMF clients and their families. The wraparound plans within the outreach program are comprehensive and address multiple life domains across home, work, and community. This includes the living environment; basic needs, safety; and social, emotional, educational, spiritual and cultural needs.

The organization is also currently collaborating with Western University to provide domestic violence trainings for employees and local businesses.

But monies will also go towards the JMMF’s long-term project — their safe house fund. “We are still working towards our goal of raising sufficient funds to open and sustain a safe house,” Hennie said.

Those interested in helping the Jessica Martel Foundation with their goals can register for the June 21 run at Those interested in volunteering can email Laura Hennie at

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