Womanspace Announces 23rd Annual Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award Honoree

Womanspace Announces 23rd Annual Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award Honoree

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Kayla Harrison

Womanspace announced today that a 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist will be coming to Mercer County. On Thursday, April 27th, 2017 at the Westin in Princeton, Womanspace will honor Kayla Harrison, two time Olympic Gold medalist in Judo, with our 23rd Annual Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award, for her efforts to shed a light on child sexual abuse through her Fearless Foundation. 

Harrison made history at the 2016 Olympics in Rio by winning her second Gold Medal by any American (man or woman) in the history of the sport of judo. Her first Gold Medal was won at the 2012 London Olympics. Her victory marks another step in a career characterized by success at the sport’s highest levels. Kayla’s judo career has been undeniably impressive.

At the age of 16, Kayla revealed the fact that she had been sexually abused for years, by her coach. After the story came to light, Kayla moved from Ohio to Massachusetts to train with Jimmy Pedro, a two-time Olympic Bronze medalist and his father Jim Pedro, Sr. The Pedros became Kayla’s coaches but also her surrogate family. Despite all the obstacles Kayla had to overcome, she came out on top figuratively and literally with two Olympic Gold Medals. Through discipline, tenacity, and the support of others she fought through the pain both on and off the mat, transforming herself into a strong, confident, articulate young woman who happens to be a world-class athlete.

Kayla has used her Olympic platform to speak out about child sexual abuse and advocate for others to do the same. She also summoned the courage to face her abuser, delivering a victim impact statement at his sentencing hearing in Federal Court in Ohio. Her story has captivated audiences everywhere and has been featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, The New York Times, USA Today, Time Magazine, The Today Show, CNN, MSNBC, among many others. Kayla was awarded the 2012 OC Tanner Inspiration Award, The Women’s Sports Foundation’s Wilma Rudolph Courage Award; was named one of Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year for 2012, Boston Globe Magazine’s Bostonian of the Year, and the Boston Sportswriter’s Association Athlete of the Year.

Kayla created the Fearless Foundation to shine a light on the darkness that is child sexual abuse and to enrich the lives of survivors through education and sport, leading survivors to mastery and enabling them to flourish in all aspects of life. She is a member of the Board of Directors of Doc Wayne, an organization that provides sports-based therapy for at-risk youth, and uses her voice on behalf of countless organizations dedicated to protecting children and women.

Womanspace hopes you will join them for an exciting evening honoring Kayla and her efforts to stop child sexual abuse. Information on how to purchase tickets will soon be posted on the agency website, www.womanspace.org.  Your support of this event ensures that much needed services are provided to women, children and men who suffer from interpersonal violence.

For more information on the Barbara Boggs Sigmund Award including sponsorships, advertising, in-kind donations or general questions please contact Lauren Nazarian at (609) 394-0136 or lan@womanspace.org.

ABOUT WOMANSPACE: Founded in 1977, Womanspace, Inc. is a leading nonprofit agency in Mercer County, New Jersey, whose mission is to Prevent Abuse, Protect Families and Change Lives through empowerment and a safety net of supportive services. Womanspace bilingual (English and Spanish) programs include 24-hour crisis intervention through crisis hotlines, response teams, and emergency shelter; counseling for adults and children, court advocacy and housing services. Our goal is to assist survivors both at-the-moment of crisis and throughout their journey of emotional healing and the achievement of economic independence. 

Womanspace is one of only eight agencies in the state that is specifically focused on providing potentially life-saving services to victims/survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, stalking, and human trafficking. Domestic violence and sexual assault are not just women’s issues, and they are not just individual or family problems. Violence against women is a human issue, and a social problem. It is up to the community to take a stand against abuse, hold abusers accountable for their behavior and protect victims. In addition to the 24 hour Mercer County Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Crisis Hotlines (609-394-9000), Womanspace also operates the New Jersey Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline, (800-572-SAFE). Last year Womanspace served 10,000 adults and children, impacted by domestic and sexual violence. For more information, please visit www.WOMANSPACE.org or call (609) 394-0136.

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