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Victims’ Memorial Walk to step off Saturday

By Staff | Apr 24, 2015

A ceremony will be held in Fort Myers in honor of National Crime Victims’ Right Week.

Hosted by the Victim Services Coalition of the 20th Judicial Circuit, the annual Victims’ Memorial Walk and Butterfly Release will take place Saturday at 10 a.m. at Lakes Regional Park in Pavilion C1. Running April 19-25 this year, the week’s theme is “Engaging communities. Empowering victims.”

“We’ve been putting this on for many years,” Stacey Carlton, a victim advocate with the State Attorney’s Office and coalition, said of the Victims’ Memorial Walk and Butterfly Release.

“We recognize, each year, the victims that have passed away due to crime,” she added. “Their loved ones – we send out invitations to come to speak, to remember them, to present pictures.”

Saturday’s program guide will list the victims who have passed since April 2014. The ceremony will include an honor guard, a welcome by the coalition’s former president and guest speakers from the Lee County Sheriff’s Office and State Attorney’s Office. There will be a reading of the names and a song.

“Then the families have an opportunity to speak to commemorate their loved ones if they want,” Carlton said.

There will be a designated table for those who want to bring a picture of a loved one.

The ceremony will conclude with a closing prayer and a poem.

Attendees can then walk to the nearby garden, where the butterflies will be released.

“It provides an element of comfort,” she said. “Release of inner grief.”

The memorial last for approximately an hour.

“It’s to empower the victims – remembering and letting them know that they’re not forgotten in the criminal justice system,” Carlton said. “It’s a great place to meet and bring families.”

She noted that every county will honor National Crime Victims’ Right Week it its own way.

“This is a national recognition, so it’s done in all the states,” Carlton said.

Last year, the coalition hosted the ceremony on a Saturday and had a larger turnout.

“We had about 30 or 40 people,” she said.

Parking at Lakes Regional Park is $1 per hour or $5 per day.

For more information, visit online at: www.facebook.com/VictimServicesCoalition.

The Victim Services Coalition is comprised of victim advocates from the local area.

Lakes Regional Park is at 7330 Gladiolus Drive in Fort Myers.