ELKINS - Officials said the largest crowd ever turned out Tuesday for the 16th annual candlelight vigil at the Randolph County Courthouse Annex to honor survivors of domestic abuse as well as those who lost their lives to abuse.
Jayne Rawl, victim service coordinator for the Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, said domestic violence is something no one in our community can ignore.
"Domestic violence affects people of all genders, ages and races," Rawl said.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Tim MacVean
Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Parker speaks during Tuesday’s candlelight vigil as his office’s victim service coordinator, Jayne Rawl, looks on.
Rawl introduced David Moore of the Bowden Family Worship Center, whose church raised funds for Women's Aid In Crisis.
"Our church raised $1,000," Moore said. "We urge the community to, if you can't give money, give your time."
After Moore presented the check to Rawl, Randolph County Circuit Court Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong spoke about her history of presiding over domestic abuse cases.
Prosecuting Attorney Michael Parker introduced the final speaker, Gina Hamilton, who is a survivor of domestic violence.
"I experienced every one of the abuses," Hamilton said. She has served an internship with Parker's office while recovering from the trauma she suffered.
Hamilton told her personal story of triumph over abuse, and ended by saying "WAIC was and is still very helpful to me." She also read a poem she had written.
The event included a ceremony, outside the annex, in which purple balloons were released into the air to honor the fallen victims of domestic abuse. Participants then returned inside and held a candlelight vigil during which everyone lit a candle in honor of victims.