Third Annual Shelter House Luminaria Run Recap

December 17, 2013 by SoWal Staff

Shelter House, the domestic and sexual violence center serving Okaloosa and Walton counties, presented its 3rd Annual Luminaria Run to End Domestic & Sexual Violence on Dec. 7 in Destin. The 5k and 9k courses were illuminated by more than 2,000 luminarias, representing how Shelter House and its community partners light the way to a safer place for victims of domestic violence. The 9k distance serves as a reminder that a woman is assaulted or beaten every nine seconds in the U.S.

More than 350 runners turned out for the race, which included 5k and 9k courses winding throughout the Indian Bayou neighborhood. The fastest male in the 9k race was Claj Pedi of Wilmington, MA with a time of 32:38. The top female on the 9k course was Cynthia Blendermann of Burnsville, MN, clocking in at 39:22. The 5k was led by Martin Conrad of Destin, who came in at 19:20. The fastest female in the 5k was Lindsey Smith of Destin, finishing the run in 21:03.

“The community has shown so much support for the Luminaria Run and for Shelter House,” said Shelter House Executive Director Michelle Sperzel of the run which moved to the City of Destin this year from Sandestin. “The Luminaria Run is not just a race. We designate each mile for someone who has endured domestic or sexual violence,honoring all who have been touched by it, remembering those we have lost and celebrating survivors.”

The twilight race, which brought in almost $15,000 for Shelter House,featured runners wearing glow sticks and even a few in Christmas lights. The Choctawhatchee High School Chorus kept runners going by singing carols, and cheerleaders from Fort Walton Beach High School and Beach Elite Cheerleading put pep in their step at cheer stations along the course. The event was capped off with a post-race party at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. featuring music from Chris Alvarado and Josh Fox and décor from Fisher’s Flowers and BE Events. Runners were kept warm with hot cocoa, gumbo, s’mores, hot toddies and more while the awards were presented.

Shelter House wishes to thank the race sponsors who made this event such a success: 30A, Aimee's Animal Magnetism, BE Events, Beach Community Mortgage, The Beachcomber, Beach Elite Cheerleading, Blueprint Health Studio, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Choctawhatchee High School Chorus,Cook Family Dentistry, Costa Enterprises, Destin Shines, DJ Mike Whitty, Dixielectricar, Emerald Grande, ERA American Realty RentalService, Fast Signs, Fedora Photography, Fishers Flowers, Fort Walton Beach High School Cheerleaders, Furry Fanatics, Gold's Gym, Health Source, KIND Bar, lululemon, Nike Factory Store, The Palms of Destin, Pleat Perry & Richie, Proffitt PR, Ramada Plaza Beach Resort,Reebok, ResortQuest, Run With It, Silver Sands Premium Outlets,, Sugar Mill Sweets, Think It Wear It Express, Wagley Creative and YOLO.

The 4th Annual Luminaria Run to End Domestic & Sexual Violence will take place December 6, 2014. For more information on participating on the race committee, volunteering or race sponsorships, call Shelter House at 850-243-1201 or visit


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