HARKER HEIGHTS — About 100 runners took their mark at the starting line Saturday morning for the True Blue 5K Run at Carl Levin Park. The race kicked off Child Abuse Prevention Month in April.

“It was great,” said Zavier Murray, 14, who finished first in the race with a time just seconds over 20 minutes. “I was looking back a few times trying to find everybody, then I picked up my speed and finished the best I could.”

Families also participated in the Family Fun Walk, which was a short trek just under a mile.

Children’s Advocacy Center of Central Texas and Revive Med Spa and Wellness Center hosted the first-time event in Harker Heights to bring awareness of child abuse and the services available for victims.

“Our agency provides specialized services to kids who have been abused and neglected in our area,” said Michelle Carter, executive director of Children’s Advocacy Center. “The cause was to make people aware of the issue of child abuse as well as raise funds for our organization.”

In 2012, the nonprofit organization reported 1,138 children from Bell and Coryell counties were victims of child abuse, with many of them placed in the care of the state due to abuse and neglect.

“We stay very busy ensuring these kids are protected, and that they have safe loving personal homes and get the opportunity to have hope and healing from their abuse,” Carter said.

The 5K also was a fundraiser for the center, as substantial funding cuts this year have threatend its ability to provide necessary services, said Tammy Gilbert, Revive owner.

“The number of abused children are astonishing,” Gilbert said. “I think children are important to everyone, and to provide what they need at such a stressful time gives you the feeling that you are doing something worthwhile.”

Carter hopes to make the 5K an annual event.

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