|Hundreds step out for YWCA Aurora Peace Walk|
from Martin Luther King's daughter resonateMembers of West Aurora's Gospel Choir performed at the recent
YWCA Aurora Leaders of Change Lunc
out for Aurora peace walk
October 20, 2016
Hundreds of luminarias cast a peaceful
glow to the Fox River trail this week for the YWCA Aurora Week Without Violence Peace Walk.
Cheryl Maraffio, a longtime peace
advocate, came with six fresh rose stems - one each for the survivors of her
son, Louis S. Sacckette - to place at a memorial stone in his name in the YWCA
Aurora Peace Park dedicated in 1999 along the path on River Street.
learn to work around the pain," Maraffio said. "There are days when
the scab gets peeled back and the feelings are raw again," the tearful mom
said, adding, "Today is one of those days."
as Lou to family, he was killed in a drive-by shooting Oct. 19, 2000, on the
southeast side. Sacckette, 30, had stepped onto the front porch of his
girlfriend's house for a cigarette after helping with household repairs when
someone in a van opened fire at a crowd of kids returning from a high school
daughter, Samantha Sacckette, was 9 years old when her father was slain. She
now has a four-year old daughter, Alexis. Another daughter, Taylor, was 5. His
sister, Amy McDonald, also came to Wednesday's Peace Walk.
man was shot multiple times, while Maraffio's son died hours later from a fatal
wound to the head. The family marked the 16th anniversary of his death by
attending the Peace Walk.
became a peace advocate, attending the YWCA peace walks and Prayer Coalition
for Recognition peace vigils. She is now a community coordinator assisting in
growing the city's Neighborhood Watch groups. The shooting remains unsolved,
loved to fish, that's why his memorial is so appropriate near the river,"
the mother said. "He would fish 24 hours a day if he could have."
loved the outdoors, sports and his children," Maraffio said.
YWCA Week Without Violence is a national campaign held during the third week of
October to raise public awareness about violence in homes and communities. One
of the goals is to create a dialogue.
were invited to sponsor luminaria in memory of victims and survivors of
violence. The group of walkers gathered at the YWCA Peace Garden located down a
hill of River Street on the west side of the Fox River, then headed north for a
one-mile walk to the Illinois Avenue Bridge.
has no demographic boundaries," said Melissa Nigro, YWCA executive
director and CEO. Nigro said violence is known to all age groups, races,
religions and socioeconomic backgrounds. "No community is immune,"
in her leadership role for one year, decided to bring back the event after some
years of absence, in hopes it would "raise awareness and mobilize people
to appreciate differences and solve issues non-violently." The purpose,
she said, was to remember victims and survivors of domestic violence, homicide,
natural disasters, military actions, terrorism and gang violence.
organization held a peace vigil after the Orlando shootings last summer.
"The numbers are staggering," she said of national trends. The YWCA
invited their partners, including representatives from the Aurora domestic
violence shelter, Aurora Police Department, local churches and schools.
Meyer, executive director of Mutual Ground, shed light on domestic violence and
sexual assault occurrences. Meyer said in a period from July to September, 62
people sought refuge at the shelter. She said 343 people and 98 children
received counseling services, and the nonprofit assisted in 81 orders of
protection. Meyer said 77 victims of sexual assault came through their doors in
the two month period.
people who come through our doors only want peace in their lives. You are
helping to bring peace to our community," she told them.
Police Sgt. Timothy Jones, West Side Supervisor for Community Policing Unit
Area 1, commended the group for stepping out. "Violence is horrible across
the board, especially violence against women," he said.
had worked in the police department's domestic violence reduction unit. "I
was sickened by the reports that came through the unit and the acts perpetrated
against victims," he said. He said events like this were meaningful in
raising awareness and offering support to victims.
Miller, another Peace Walk participant, is active in her Neighborhood Watch
Group and Main Baptist Church. "Violence in Aurora is nowhere near the
scale of violence in the city of Chicago, but one senseless death is
horrible," Miller said.
never retreated after the loss of her son.
it was time to say goodbye to Lou, I promised him good things would happen out
of this. I knew it was up to me to be his voice for peace and non-violence in
this community," she said before joining the peace walk.
began to see other mothers who were in a similar situation as our family. I
thought that I could help raise the level of awareness against violence in this
community. When I received the phone call that my son was shot 16 years ago
tonight, I knew in my heart that he wouldn't make it. A mother knows these
things," she said.