HOUSTON, Tx - On Saturday, the Houston Area Women's Center hosted its 27th annual Race Against Violence. Thousands of runners gathered in Montrose to support victims of abuse, spread awareness and raise money for the Women's Center.
The funds raised by Saturday's 5k race go to support the HAWC, which has provided shelter and services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence, as well as violence prevention education, to the Houston community since 1977.
Many survivors, friends and supportive community members took part in the run to raise awareness and contribute to the cause.
Deangelis Carias ran for her mother.
"She was a victim of domestic violence, and I was a victim also, and I followed the same pattern, so at some point in time there has to be some growth and you have to learn something from it," said Carias.
Carias was only one of the many participants who had been personally affected by violence.
Laura White also shared her tragic story of a relationship that almost claimed her life.
"My ex-husband shot me with a shotgun in my abdomen, and I was given less than a one-percent chance of living, and to be given a second chance at life, and then to be able to come out here and support an effort like this... That's why I speak... I know what those women go through before they die, and so I speak for them. I speak for the women who don't survive," explained White.
"Most people don't speak out until it's too late. So, [we need to] make people aware that it can happen to anybody," said survivor and runner Debbie Roman.
Rene Watts, along with other friends, stood by Roman's side while she shared her reasons for running. The group called themselves 'Debbie's Sweat Angels' and was proud to run in support of their namesake, as well as for all other women in need of help.
"You have support out there, so don't not speak up, because we're all here for women who need to speak up, and should speak up, and it's okay to speak up," Watts added.
For more information on the Houston Area Women's Shelter and the services they provide, you can visit their website here.