Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, a student at New Leadership Charter School in Springfield, committed suicide at age 11 in his Springfield home on April 6, 2009, after suffering repeated bullying and torment at school. The Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover Foundation was founded in 2010 to end the bullying epidemic among youth in schools.
Springfield resident Gwynnetta Sneed, founder of the Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover Foundation, believes the event will serve as a reminder about the dangers of bullying.
Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, a student at New Leadership Charter School in Springfield, committed suicide at age 11 after suffering repeated bullying and torment at school.
"As another school year begins, hopefully, those who are bullies will realize that what they are doing is wrong and will return to their classes with a new attitude. Perhaps those parents who know that their children are bullies will help them work through their issues. School should be a safe haven for our children, not a place where they enter every day in fear," Sneed said.
Reverend Peter Sylver, president & CEO of Martin Luther King, Jr. Family Services in Springfield and member of the foundation's executive planning committee, thinks that both children and adults play a pivotal role in stopping bullying.
"As a parent, I can only understand the hurt and helplessness that a parent can feel when their child is being bullied. Please don't just think of your own experience, think of your son or daughter. There are a lot of children out there living in fear, and that's wrong," he said
Fellow executive planning committee member Sheila Goodwin, senior vice president, retail, at PeoplesBank, an event sponsor, also believes that preventing bullying should be a concern for all parents.
"Bullying can affect a child's self esteem, confidence, and their ability to focus on the real reason why they are in school and that is to learn and grow. I have two boys, ages 13 and 16, and understand the pressures that kids are facing. Carl could have been one of my sons," Goodwin said.
Registration for both the 5K road race and 2K walk begins at 8:30 a.m. outside of Forest Park's CYR Arena. Signup forms are available for download on the Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover Web site, www.carljoseph11.org.
The entrance fee for the 5K is $20. A group fee for track teams is $200. Participation in the 2K walk costs $5.
The first male and first female to finish the 5K will win a $100 cash prize. Prizes for first place in each of six age divisions will also be awarded. T-Shirts will be given to the first 150 people who register in advance for the 5K.
Race timing will be tracked by event sponsor Fast Feet of West Springfield.
The Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover Foundation was established in 2010 to bring awareness to the extreme measures that some children will take as a result of bullying. Eleven year old Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover took his life after being repeatedly tormented at school. Conceived with an initial investment of $25, the foundation's mission is to help ensure that bullying is no longer tolerated in our community. We are establishing an annual community scholarship gala and an anti-bullying walk in memory of Carl.
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