By Heather Huber, Fort Campbell CourierMay 1, 2015
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- More than 1,000 Soldiers, Family members and community residents came out Friday night to take part in the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention's first Take Back the Night Glow Run at the division parade field.
"The SHARP program, in partnership with [Morale, Welfare and Recreation], we see the need to raise awareness in a larger venue as opposed to the classrooms and having smaller venues," said Lt. Col. James C. Clarke Jr., Equal Opportunity program manager. "When we sat down and planned this, the idea behind it was to get an activity that everyone would remember and then, oh by the way, SHARP. The importance of SHARP will rise to the top."
Signs posted reminded attendees about the importance of consent, and what constitutes consent, harassment and assault.
"We're really partnering with the [Tennessee] Titans and we have a lot of subject matter experts … and the Titans wanted to tap into that and help out with their organization," Clark said.
In the interest of that partnership, the Titans sent running back, Fort Campbell High School graduate and Mr. Kentucky Football Antonio Andrews to represent them at that run and help add notoriety.
"It's always good, military appreciation -- I have a strong background for it," Andrews said. "It's always good to take time out and give back. It's a good, heart-warming community. I always have fun when I give back."
"Every Army base I [have] been to, I call it home," Andrews said. "It's always good to have a home away from home."
Andrews said he wasn't running because he use the weekends to refresh his legs, but he cheered on each wave of runners as they took off from the starting line. He said it was important to him to support Family events because you never know who might be looking to you for inspiration.
"I mean, I just play football, but you'd be surprised how many people look up to you and are motivated by the things you do," he said. "I mean, to play on the level I'm at, it takes a lot of dedication and hard work and just to see how dedicated somebody could be … and have the opportunity to meet them -- that means everything. For me in general, meeting everyone, it's heartwarming and keeps you grounded."
He said he was also happy to represent the Titans at the event because he recognized that sexual harassment and assault are bigger problems than most people like to admit.
"It's a big problem in our world today," Andrews said. "A lot of people are hurt by it -- male and female get abused. It's a great cause, a great thing to be involved in. A lot of great things come from it. It's always good to support and have the NFL name behind it and bring those supporters."
He also said if events like the Glow Run and the Eagle Challenge Fitness Tour had existed while he was in high school, he was sure they'd be much bigger now, but he was happy that he could still help raise awareness.
"A lot of people run, but now they're running for a cause," Andrews said. "It's always good to have national attention. That's always what we tried to do when I was in high school -- to bring national attention to Fort Campbell."
Clark said the aim was to raise awareness while still providing a good time for Soldiers and Families. "You're going to have people out here [who are] survivors that are going to meet other survivors and hopefully they will build some type of kinship and some type of support," Clark said. "This event is really multi-faceted. It has a lot of different purposes. But the main one is to raise awareness about this crime we call sexual assault and eradicate it."
Clark said since the military is a fitness-based group, doing a 5K seemed like a no-brainer.
"It would get most of our Soldiers involved and units involved with the camaraderie," he said. "When they get running and start talking about why they're running, well it's a SHARP run, and then it's a successful run. All of the great publicity that comes out of it. You can't pay for that."
For friends, Crystal Schmidt, Nicole Hoskins and Lucy Warren, the run provided a good excuse to get their children out and spend time together before Hoskins goes away on vacation. Schmidt said she'd done several 5Ks before, including the color run in Clarksville, but it was Warren's first run.
"Something easy, something small and it was free," Warren said.
The women all wore matching tutus and shirts with paint footprints on them, while their children wore tutus and bright yellow shirts.
"We're all really good friends, and our kids all get along and they all play well together," Schmidt said. "And this way we don't lose each other."
Warren said they had the idea to have their children stamp their footprints on the shirts to represent the run.
They also spent two days making the tutus and sprayed them with glow paint to stand out more during the race.
In addition to having a good time, the three women said it was important to support SHARP and everyone affected by sexual harassment.
"Sadly it's become more common for people to say 'Oh, it's just sexual harassment,' but its sexual harassment," Hoskins said.
"It's important to stick up for the ones that don't necessarily have a voice and don't want to talk about it, so we're just here to support," Schmidt said.
Denise Dickson originally came to support her husband, 1st Sgt. Jeremy Dickson, 20th Replacement Company, and his Soldiers running, but her son Tyler, 13, decided he wanted to run as well.
"He was real excited to come out and run," she said. "This is actually his first 5K, so I'm excited for him."
She said the Family always tries to take part in Family-oriented events but this was the first 5K they'd taken part in.
"It's neat, especially because it's a glow run, everybody has these outfits on and headbands and glow earrings," Dickson said.
She said she considered running with her son, but she has two younger sons who she didn't think could keep up yet. Her husband was running in formation with his company, so running with him wasn't an option.
Although the Family doesn't usually participate in races, she felt that the Glow Run being a SHARP event made it an important event to take part in.
"I think it's important for awareness because people may not think its present even in the military, but it is," Dickson said. "It's present everywhere, in all work situations, so it's important that everyone is aware that it's not OK and that there's different ways to help if people have been. That it should not be tolerated."
Clark said they had close to 1,000 people signed up for the race, but he estimated that between Family members and last minute signups, there were at least double that in the race.