Hundreds brave elements for Walk a Mile for a Child

More than 300 people braved the wind to participate in the annual Walk a Mile for a Child Saturday morning, April 7.

Dala’s Blue Angels and the Lebanon Police Department hosted the annual event at the Lebanon Justice Center.

The event benefits the ABC House, the child abuse prevention center that serves Linn and Benton Counties.

Speakers included Linn County District Attorney Doug Marteeny, Jenny Gilmore-Robinson, executive director of the ABC House, and attorney and Linn County judicial candidate Rachel Kittson-MaQatish.

Kittson-MaQatish is the Lebanon city prosecutor. She said being a mother is the most important thing she has ever done.

But in that role she has said and done things she wishes she could take back, she added.

She became a mother for the first time when she was 17 years old and said many other mothers have mothered her along the way.

As a city prosecutor, she handles misdemeanor cases of child abuse.

“You carry the burden of the most egregious sort,” she said to Marteeny. “What I see is just a glimpse.”

Kittson-MaQatish encouraged attendees to report suspected child abuse.

“When you report abuse and neglect, (there are) things you’re doing for that family,” Kittson-MaQatish said, noting that those people may benefit from the help they may receive.

“Your call says that this is not OK,” she said. “It’s an easy call to make because you love them and you want better for them.”

Children are an untapped resource, she said.

“Teach your children what to do to help their friends and to keep them safe,” she said.

That includes telling a trusted adult who will report the suspected abuse.

She also encouraged participants to commit to get involved by touring the ABC House and taking training to recognize abuse.

LPD Community Policing Officer Dala Johnson spearheads the child abuse awareness event.

The number of participants has steadily grown and the Lebanon Police Department is host to year-round reminders of child abuse awareness, such as the rock garden and bench in front of the building.

The bench bears the name of Karly Sheehan, a 3-year-old girl from Corvallis who died from abuse in 2005.

A law passed in 2008, Karly’s Law, “mandates that children in Oregon who exhibit suspicious physical injuries in the course of a child abuse investigation must receive medical attention within 48 hours,” the Oregon Department of Justice site states.
David Sheehan, Karly’s father, and others had reported suspected abuse several times but she was not removed from the situation in time, according to news reports. Eventually Shawn Wesley Field, the boyfriend of Karly’s mother, was convicted of her murder.

David Sheehan has become an advocate for child abuse awareness and has spoken at the Walk a Mile events.

He was not able to attend this year but sent a gift to be presented to Johnson: his daughter’s piggy bank.

Dena Burian Blacklaw, one of Dala’s Blue Angels, hid the treasure in the days leading up to the event when Johnson opened the box.

Sheehan said he had no idea what is inside the bank, which bears Karly’s name, suggesting that it could possibly be marbles and some of the change he used to give her.

Follow Dala’s Blue Angels on Facebook to keep up on the fund-raisers they do throughout the year to benefit the ABC House.