DEXTER, Maine — The fourth annual Amy, Coty and Monica 5K Race-Walk in Dexter Sunday morning drew more than 450 participants and raised just over $14,500 for programs to help curb domestic violence in Maine.
Proceeds from this year’s event will go toward a proximity monitoring system for abusers, starting with Somerset County, according to event chairperson Kelly Gay. “If Amy [Lake] had that type of protection, she’d be alive today,” said Gay.
Amy Lake and her children, Coty and Monica, were killed on June 13, 2011 by her estranged husband, Steven, who then took his own life. Amy Lake was a kindergarten teacher at Ridge View Community School and a co-worker of Gay’s.
A proximity monitoring system consists of a bracelet on the offender and a pager for the victim. If the abuser comes within a restricted zone, such as the victim’s home, a law enforcement agency can be notified instantly.
During pre-race ceremonies, Somerset County Chief Deputy Sheriff Dale Lancaster said that domestic violence “affects us all, and we need to work together to end it.”
Lancaster said that his department, in cooperation with the Somerset-Kennebec County District Attorney’s office, is working on a pilot program for electronic monitoring. “With your help, we’re going to make this happen,” Lancaster said. “By having monitors on these [domestic violence] perpetrators, we’re going to save some lives.”
The Lake family lived in the Somerset County community of Harmony before they moved to Dexter.
District Attorney Maeghan Maloney gave an update on the monitoring program, which also received an $18,000 contribution from a previous Amy, Coty and Monica 5K event.
“The state is trying to decide whether to send it out to an RFP [request for proposal], which means several vendors can bid on it, or send it to a single source,” Maloney said.
Because this is a pilot project, a single source is more viable and quicker, she explained. “I’d like to start this summer. If it’s an RFP, it’s going to take two more years,” Maloney said. “Governor [Paul] LePage is a huge supporter of domestic violence prevention. So we have to convince everyone who needs convincing to make this happen.”
Maloney said that she’d like to see the defendants pay for the cost of the monitoring “so it would be self-sustaining.”
The race itself went off smoothly under near-perfect conditions. Gay said that the statewide publicity for the event has helped generate a lot of support for domestic violence prevention programs.
“It’s one of those things you want to keep in the public eye — not just in memory of Amy, Coty and Monica, but others who might still be in domestic violence situations,” Gay said. “If we can save even one person, it’s worth it.”
For Jody Annis of Dover-Foxcroft, Sunday’s run was her third time. “It doesn’t get any easier,” she said with a laugh, “because the last mile was almost all uphill. But I’m here to support a very important cause.”
Tim and Kate Leland of Sangerville were in their fourth Amy, Coty and Monica 5K, and Tim described the course as “hard and hot. I even had to walk a little ways.”
Kate Leland agreed. “The last mile was a tough one. But toward the end, you just dig in deep and remember why you’re doing it.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and would like to talk with an advocate, call 866-834-4357, TRS800-787-3224. This free, confidential service is available 24/7 and is accessible from anywhere in Maine.