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Originally published: 2013-09-10 18:53:02
Last modified: 2013-09-10 18:53:46

800 walk in silence to promote awareness of sexual violence

Appalachian State University held the 24th annual Walk for Awareness on Monday, dedicated to the memory of Leigh Cooper Wallace, who died suddenly in December.

More than 800 people attended the event, officials with Appalachian's Center for Student Involvement and Leadership estimated.

The walk was preceded by a showing of the film, "Why We Walk: A Survivor's Story," in the Plemmons Student Union. 
 
Chancellor Kenneth Peacock and Vice Chancellor for Student Development Cindy Wallace opened the event on Sanford Mall. The crowd proceeded to walk from Sanford Mall to the Holmes Convocation Center in total silence.

"It is our hope that each year the walk reaffirms our commitment to both individual and community responsibility for the safety of our campus and our town," Cindy Wallace said.

In 1989, Leigh Cooper Wallace was raped by a man who was later convicted in the kidnapping and murder of ASU employee Jeni Gray. Wallace, a Watauga High School coach, became a spokeswoman for victims of sexual violence.

Several members of Leigh Cooper Wallace's family attended the event, including her son, Jake Wallace; her parents, Louise and Claude Cooper; her sisters, Julie Hodge and Holley Quick; and her nieces, Riley and Regan Hodge.

Jake Wallace read his mother's speech from the 20th annual Walk for Awareness before the walk began.

"That moment has defined my life, not as a victim, but as a survivor," he read.

The event was designed to promote awareness of sexual violence and to commemorate lives lost to violence in the Boone community.

"I believe that by raising awareness, by facing and reporting these incidents, we do lessen violence on the campus of Appalachian and the in the Boone community," Peacock said.

"Oh, how I wish it would eliminate violence in the wonderful community of Boone," he said.