Fourth annual Lauren McCluskey walk to take place next weekend

Lauren McCluskey still honored through foundation, walk


Courtesy of Linda Mittelhammer

The annual Lauren McClusky Walk is taking place again this year on October 8 after previous walks like the one shown here

SHAKIRA GONZALEZ-LUNA, Evergreen reporter

Four years ago, the Lauren McCluskey Foundation started a race in memory of the track runner who would have been a senior this year at the University of Utah. The annual walk in honor of McCluskey will take place next weekend.

“She was a gentle soul and cared about people. She would always make sure that nobody felt excluded. After she passed there were many people that would tell many stories about her,” Linda Mittelhammer, Lauren McCluskey Foundation co-founder said.  

Lauren was in a relationship, and during the relationship she noticed he lied about his age and name, Mittelhammer said. When she noticed this, she broke up with him. He started texting her and stalking her outside her dorm.

She immediately informed her parents, friends, housing and the cops. Housing and cops never followed through on her concerns. She showed the police officers all the messages the ex-boyfriend would send through different phone numbers, but they would dismiss them by saying they were scammers, she said.

“They finally followed up, but it was too late because it was an hour and a half after she died. She was killed when she was outside of her dorm with her mom. Her ex-boyfriend saw her, grabbed her, and threw her in his car and shot her,” Mittelhammer said. 

For this reason, Lauren’s Promise was created for people who are going through this same situation and for them to not feel afraid to speak up and have the reassurance that they will believe them and be assisted, she said.

“Lauren’s Promise is making a promise to listen and believe you if someone is threatening you. That is one of the things we are promoting through campus and across the country. This means that if you need help, don’t be afraid to speak up because you know that someone made a promise to believe you and they can transfer you where you need to be and make sure that you are taking care of,” Mittelhammer said.  

Over 252 universities have adopted this promise, or at least have faculty and staff learning about it, she said. 

Twenty-five percent of women and 14% of men will experience physical violence in a relationship at some point in their lives;  19.3 million women and 5.1 million men have experienced a case of stalking from a current or past partner as well, according to the Lauren McCluskey Foundation website. 

In honor of Lauren McCluskey and all the victims of physical violence or stalking, there will be a race and walking memorial for campus safety. The race will be on Oct. 8 at 9 am, according to the website. It will take place at the Veterinary School Parking Lot off Grimes Way.

The race will also be taking place at the University of Utah in person and virtually on Oct. 22. 

Mittelhammer said for the race at the WSU Pullman Campus, the first 50 graduate students to sign up will not have to pay a registration fee. 

The Pullman campus will also host a virtual race as well, Laura Clarke, Lauren McCluskey Foundation Founder said. The virtual run starts on Oct. 1 and ends on Oct. 8th.

People will register the same way as the in-person run, but they will be able to choose their own route and record the time on their own as well, Clarke said. 

“The foundation trusts them that they did run the 5k or 10k. Then they will send their time to the foundation once completed,” she said.   

Mittelhammer said her favorite part of the event is watching the community and university come together.

“It is wonderful to see that students realize that this is something that they want to be sure is happening and that change is happening,” she said.

Mittlehammer said the message the race sends is extremely important.

“In some cases, people are naïve. So, we need to educate people about physical violence/stalking in relationships to save people’s life,” she said.   

These events will be a way to bring awareness to physical violence and stalking in relationships. If people are not able to attend this event there are other ways to help bring awareness. They can sign up to be a volunteer through the website or can donate to the foundation.

“One of the ways Washington State University is bringing awareness to the topic is by communicating with the syllabus committee and making sure to add to every syllabus Lauren’s Promise,” Mittelhammer said.