Burlington, VT – On September 12th, 2015, Oakledge Park was filled with friends of the late Laura Kate Winterbottom as well as members of the Chittenden County community. Together they gathered on Laura’s birthday to prepare for the tenth anniversary of her 5 kilometer March. Organized by the LKW Memorial Fund, the event seeks to raise awareness to, and work towards, ending sexual violence as well as remember Laura for her contributions made to the Chittenden County community.
The Laura Kate Winterbottom Memorial Fund is a non-profit foundation that was established after Laura’s abduction, rape, and murder in 2005. It is a foundation dedicated to her memory, which aims to serve the community Laura was heavily involved in.
Laura was a children’s art teacher and volunteered at many locations including Burlington City Arts from the Heart, ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, Home Share Vermont, the Humane Society of Chittenden County, and KidSafe Collaborative. The fund has donated nearly $100,000 to over forty different organizations throughout Chittenden County and Vermont.
The Champlain College Emergent Media Center and H.O.P.E Works are beneficiaries to the 2015 Laura’s March. The money that has been raised will be used to bring BREAKAWAY programs to afterschool workshops and other youth sites in the Burlington and the Chittenden County community. The goal of these programs is to promote gender equality and prevent violence against women.
Many of Laura’s former colleagues and friends from the community attended the Saturday event. Ann DeMarle, Director of the EMC, who worked with Laura in the past, gave a heartfelt speech reflecting on BREAKWAY and the resilience and impact of the Winterbottom family in light of the tragedy they faced.
“I so admire the Winterbottom family,” Ann DeMarle said to the attendees at the event. “They could’ve shut their door on Vermont and our community. They could’ve said ‘I want to leave it behind,’ but instead they’ve gathered all these people and supporting the programs and strengthening the community here.”
The EMC had most of their staff in attendance for the march. There was also a group of Champlain College students who participated in the event. Many community members marched as well, including the Burlington Police Department, Burlington Mayor Weinberger, the Saint Michael’s hockey team, and various other members and organizations of the community.
Some beneficiaries of the march are Pride Center of Vermont and The University of Vermont’s Medical Center’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner. A portion of the funds raised also go toward growing and sustaining the LKW Fund.