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Urging a billion to rise on Valentine's Day

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To learn more about the 5 p.m. Friday event go to the Facebook page, One Billion Rising Fort Wayne 2014, or its website,

Wednesday, February 12, 2014 - 10:15 am

There is a note on Lori Rose's desk that reads, “The courage to raise your voice, is the courage to change the world.”

That note defines the goal behind One Billion Rising project, a spin-off of the Valentine's Day movement. Starting last year, women in 207 countries stood up and danced together on Valentine's Day to raise awareness about violence against women and girls. Last year Rose organized an event at Parkview Field, and this year she is back.

“Breast cancer impacts 1 in 8 women, while violence and abuse impacts 1 in 3. Why do we never hear about those survivors?” Rose said.

Answering her own question, Rose said it is because of the shame women and girls associate with what happened to them. Rose said she was listening to a TED talk by Eve Ensler, playwright, activist and author of "The Vagina Monologues," last year when Ensler mentioned the One Billion Rising event set for Valentine's Day 2013. Being a dance instructor, Rose knew how powerful dance can be. She decided Fort Wayne needed to be among the 1 billion dancing on Valentine's Day.

It was barely two months before Valentine's Day, but by the time Valentine's Day 2013 arrived, she was able to bring 600 people, including volunteers, together at Parkview Field.

The money raised through the event is donated to five organizations that help people dealing with violence against women in the community. All proceeds are split evenly among the YWCA, The Center for Nonviolence, Crime Victim Care, Women's Bureau and the Fort Wayne Sexual Assault Treatment Center. Last year they raised about $2,000. Sponsorships this year have been a little light; they are hoping they can at least match last year's total.

“We are hoping to grow that fund as we are supporting five different agencies equally,” Rose said.

This year Rose has the help of what she refers to as the “brain trust:” five hardcore volunteers, along with another 50 or so who have attended the dance preparation classes and flash mobs. There will be three speakers this year. Tara Brantley, a survivor of domestic violence, will again emcee the event as well as speak. Karen Richards, prosecuting attorney for Allen County, will speak, as will Rusty York, Fort Wayne's director of public safety. They will also have a couple of other dance teams performing and, of course, the climax of the event will involve everyone dancing together.

They are hoping to perform on top of the third base dugout, like they did last year, and are currently getting volunteers to shovel out the stands. Rose said if that isn't possible, they will hold the event on the concourse. If the weather is really bad, they will move it indoors.

The Parkview Field event is not the only thing they're doing this year. They had a fundraiser last week at the Wunderkammer Company, and last Friday there was a special viewing of "Girl Rising," a groundbreaking feature film at Cinema Center, followed by a discussion.

Rose said they are already stating to plan for next year when Valentine's Day falls on a Saturday. She said it could give them the opportunity to expand their program and involve more organizations in the community.

Rose said she used to think of women affected by violence as a different demographic than her own, but the more she learned about the topic, the more she realized it affects all walks of life. She realized she too had dealt with situations when she was dating that should never have happened. Volunteers from the first year have for the first time this year been sharing their own stories. Talking through what happened helps you heal, Rose said.