Nearly a year after her murder garnered national attention, the family of Vanessa Marcotte hopes to ensure her life is remembered for more than how she died.
Marcotte would have turned 28 years old this Saturday. To honor her, a 5k race is scheduled at Wachusett Mountain.
"Given the way that she died, we knew if this happened to one of us, she would do anything to make sure it didn't happen to other people," said cousin, Caroline Tocci.
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In August of last year, Marcotte was out on a jog in her hometown of Princeton when she was attacked and murdered. Police found her body, partially stripped, in a wooded area near her mother's home. In April, authorities arrested Angelo Colin Ortiz, 31, and charged him in connection with the death.
In the months since the killing, Tocci said they have learned to overcome their grief with a desire to help. This year, they established the Vanessa T. Marcotte Foundation, which aims to empower and educate the public about violence against women.
"It affected my whole way of being," explained Tocci. "She did nothing wrong. She was running on a street that she ran a thousand times before in the middle of the day, a mile from her home."
Outrage from Marcotte's family and the running community has led to several partnerships with organizations that Tocci hopes will save lives. One of the sponsors of their race, Roar for Good, has developed a device that acts as a panic button for runners to use if they run into trouble. If pushed, it would notify certain people of your location.
"Vanessa would be doing the same thing if she were here and one of us wasn't," said cousin Carol Gallagher. "If people are going to focus on us, we want it to be for something more positive."
Saturday's race is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. Registration will begin at 8:00 a.m. For more information, please click here.