Grissom holds fun .5k run for serious cause

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Rachel Barton
  • 434th Air Refueling Wing

On April 1, Grissom Air Force Reserve Base held a .5 K race. It’s not a typo or an April Fool’s joke. The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office organized the 3rd annual half-kilometer race for the April Unit Training Assembly, in observance of sexual assault awareness month.

The atmosphere of the event was light-hearted, and many chuckled at the short distance, but that’s the point, according to Tara Etcheson, Grissom’s sexual assault response coordinator.

“It’s a fun way to bring awareness to the subject and show our members that they have support when it comes to reporting or getting services for sexual assault,” said Etcheson.

Etcheson is the new SARC at Grissom. She assumed the role in December of 2022.

“When I first came on board, everybody was talking about the .5K and that it’s a good time. Everybody has always had positive feedback and response to it,” said Etcheson. “It’s just for fun and to show that we all support sexual assault prevention programs.”

Maj. Joel Shepherd, 434th SAPR victim advocate on UTA weekends, was also present in support of the race. His role as victim advocate is to ensure that those who have experienced trauma can get access to the help they need.

“We’re like a resource hub. When an individual is a victim of sexual assault, they have control taken away from them,” said Shepherd. “Our job is to help them to regain that control slowly and at their own pace with the resources they want.”  

The SAPR staff at Grissom also plays the critical role of providing bystander intervention training, in order to eliminated sexual assault from happening in the Air Force.

“When occurrences do happen, we want to see that they are actually reported because someone feels comfortable enough with the program to do so,” Said Shepherd. “We want toe occurrences to go down. Our goal is to work ourselves out of a job completely.”

Etcheson acknowledged the civilian volunteers of the program for their help over their years of service.

“This will be our volunteer victim advocates, Kathy Sires and Rebecca Mattox’s last year,” said Etcheson. “It was amazing for them to volunteer for the program over the years.”

With the Air Force removing the volunteer victim advocates role with the program, Grissom will have a full-time civilian victim advocate in the future.


In addition to information provided by the SAPR office, certified therapy dogs were on hand, as well as an informational booth for services available through Vet Center.

The race kicked off during a break in the rainy weather, and racers walked or ran the 500 meters stopping halfway to reload on carbs.

Grissom members in need of guidance of SAPR support from the SARC or a victim advocate can call 765-688-2040.