By Meghan McCaffrey Contributing Writer
---- — About 90 people participated in the Step Up for Kids 5k run or 3k walk on Sunday to raise money and awareness for child abuse victims in Otsego County. The Otsego Child Advocacy Center (CAC) hosted the event at the Clark Sports Center in Cooperstown.
The purpose of CAC is to help kids get through their horrible experience of either physical or sexual abuse in the best way possible, said CAC coordinator Stacy Osborn.
At CAC the victims can receive various types of treatments and referrals, including mental health and medical services. They also provide financial counseling to parents. Each current case is reviewed monthly to make sure the families are receiving every service they need, Osborn said.
“It’s a one-stop shop for the victims of abuse,” Osborn said.
CAC handles more than 100 cases of abuse a year. The number of cases has nearly doubled since 2008 when there were 53 cases a year.
Often people don’t know about the resources Otsego County offers. “People don’t know about us until they need us,” Osborn said.
The CAC office includes an interview room with video equipment, a medical room where patients will be able to receive medical services if necessary, a waiting room and the office.
Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl explained how the interview process had changed for children.
“We videotape the child’s interview. Under the old system they were interviewed all these different times,” Muehl said. “They would have done it up to six times and each time it’s traumatizing for them.”
One of the runners remembers a time when she had to retell her story multiple times in front of a board of nine men and women. Stacy Mitchell, the owner of Body by Stacy gym in Oneonta, was also the top women’s finisher.
“I was a victim of child abuse. The intake in 1983 was worse than the abuse,” Mitchell said.
“When I heard about how much the process has changed, I wanted to get involved in this run,” she continued.
Many of the participants at the run/walk wore Body by Stacy shirts, as she encouraged everyone in her gym to get involved
. “We raised over 1000 dollars,” she said.
One of the walkers, Linda Lionetti, said she participated because, “It’s so sad what some of the children have to deal with. So any way that we can support them we do.”
Lionetti is a teacher at the elementary school in Cooperstown. She and her three daughters ages 12, 13 and 15 participated in the walk.
Jeff Moore of Oneonta came in first place overall. Brian Guzy of Cooperstown finished second.
Shannon Mott of Westford finished second among the women.
There were several vendors at the event including Home Depot in support of their Kids Workshops where kids learn to build; Building Healthy Families, a home visiting service for new and expecting parents; Northeast Parent and Child Society, a therapeutic foster care program; Thirty-One Gifts, and Madison Handbags. New York Bounce House also had 3 different bounce houses set up for the children to play on.
For more information about the Otsego County Child Advocacy Center you can visit them at the Meadows Center in Cooperstown or go their website at www.otsegocounty.com.