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Stepping Out Against Bullying was theme during walk in the park

October 17, 2018
J.T. Whitehouse , The Town Crier

On Sunday (Oct. 14) a large crowd of people gathered at Austintown Township Park to take part in the third annual Lauren Nicole Bowman Step Out Against Bullying Memorial Walk. The event included a one-mile walk and a balloon release on the baseball field.

Lauren Bowman was a 13-year-old student at St. Christine's whose life ended two years ago in an incident tied to being bullied. It happened in August, just prior to the start of school and had friends and family asking why. In October friends came together in an effort to help the family and bring awareness to the issue of bullying. An aunt, Shawne Wifong, helped organize the Lauren Nicole Bowman Step Out Against Bullying Memorial Walk and roughly 300 family members, friends and teammates came out to participate.

"We had 300 participate in 2016," Wilfong said. "Last year it rained and we only had 100."

Article Photos

Photos by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier

Dylan Roby, Amanda Roby and Danielle Brown work hard to fill hundreds of purple and white dove balloons for the third annual Lauren Nicole Bowman Step Out Against Bullying Memorial Walk on Sunday (Oct.14). The three volunteers are cousins to Bowman, whose life was ended at 13 due to bullying.

On Sunday, the weather was cool and sunny, making for a perfect day to hold the walk. Family members arrived early to fill balloons with helium and sell wrist bands to help cover the cost of the helium. Wilfong said the event is no longer a fundraiser, but is to help bring awareness about bullying while remembering all the good things about Lauren.

"We just do this every year to bring awareness and to let people know there are people here to help," she said.

The walk started at 5:30 p.m. from the gazebo and headed north towards the dog park. It circled around and came back to the baseball field for a ceremonial balloon release.

In the balloon release, participants had a chance when they registered to fill out a note card and attach it to the balloon. Most wrote a little note in Bowman's memory. One former school friend, Ursuline sophomore Cassie Sorber said she comes to the event every year.

"It is nice to have everyone come together and remember her (Lauren's) life," Sorber said. "even though it was way too short."

Bowman made a lot of friends, many on the softball field. She played in the league at Austintown Township Park and played for the Mill Creek League as well. She was best known as the first baseman and because of that fact, the balloon release was held around that base. The sea of purple balloons were joined by the white dove balloons that family members released.

Lauren's mother Marijane Bowman said it is still difficult to talk about her life. She said it brings out memories she does not want to bring back, but she and her husband Rob Bowman both understand it is for a good cause.

"We're very fortunate to have all these people come out to support me and my wife and remember my daughter," Rob said. "That is the real reason we are here."



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