Photo by Kelly White
Devin Galmines, 16, and her stepmother, Kelly Angel-Galmines, associate director of the Crisis Center for South Suburbia, danced the night away at the center's Dance 4 Awareness on Saturday evening at Moraine Valley Community College.
Former Chicago Police Officer Samella Ramirez was wounded by gunfire in November of 2014, along with her then 21-year-old daughter. They were victims of her daughter’s ex-boyfriend, Anthony Gates.
The officer was 49 years old at the time when she was visiting her daughter's home in Chicago. It was then that her daughter's former boyfriend approached and started arguing. During the altercation, the man pulled out a gun and opened fire, striking Ramirez several times in the face, neck and both arms, and hitting the daughter in the thigh.
“I was shot 12 times,” said Ramirez, of Chicago. “I sustained a shattered femur, broken jaw and my hand was broken in three different places. The bullets took out nine of my teeth.”
The man then fled in a black Impala with the couple's 2-year-old son. He was arrested about three hours later on the city’s North Side and the boy was found unharmed. Ramirez and her daughter were taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Prosecutors disclosed that Gates had a history of domestic violence with his ex-girlfriend.
“I have had a total of eight surgeries since the incident,” Ramirez said.
The Crisis Center for South Suburbia held its second annual Dance 4 Awareness on Saturday at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, bringing light to the harsh realities of domestic violence, honoring and highlighting Ramirez’s story, along with a night filled with dancing to bring awareness to domestic violence.
Ramirez felt it was a great way to teach others about the hard realities of domestic violence first-hand.
“Educating the public is vital because domestic violence is a hidden crime and unless it has touched your life personally or someone close to you, the ability to understand or feel for the victim is just not there,” Ramirez said. “A judgmental person is quick to say, ‘just leave’; however, that is easier said than done.”
Dance 4 Awareness was a five-hour long dance party, named, “Light up the Night” that not only raised awareness but also funds in honor of both victims and survivors of domestic violence.
The event was open to people high school age and older and was organized by Kerri Twietmeyer, special events manager for the Crisis Center for South Suburbia. She was assisted by Deb Fahey, CCSS Board member and event chairperson; and Christine Wollner, Jessica Kelly, Enisa Alicea and Rachel Fassl.
“Samella shared her family’s personal story with domestic violence to highlight the importance of understanding domestic violence and working to prevent it,” Twietmeyer said.
Attendees said to have enjoyed the night out and the underlying cause behind it.
“This is a great way to get out there and show your support for an incredible organization,” said Kelly, 27, of Worth.
Kelly was dancing the night away along with many others, including Kelly Angel-Galmines, the Crisis Center for South Suburbia’s associate director.
“This event is not only fun, the primary focus is helping victims of domestic violence,” Angel-Galmines said.
Moraine Valley was chosen at the event locations for a few reasons, according to Twietmeyer. One reason is that the Crisis Center’s founder, Dianne Masters, was a board trustee at Moraine and the original shelter was located on Moraine Valley’s campus until 1990.
“Moraine Valley has a historic tie with the Crisis Center,” Twietmeyer said. “The Crisis Center is also hoping to draw a younger demographic to the event in an effort to raise awareness and develop the next generation of advocates for the cause. College-age students have a tremendous amount of energy and enthusiasm. Inviting them to become ambassadors for positive change in the community has powerful implications.”
B96 Radio, featuring Nikki from Middays, was onsite to get the party started. Music was provided by DJ Ollie V with Entourage Mobile Entertainment. The event gathered 150 attendees for an admission price of $25 per person. Dancers were able to dance solo or on self-created dance teams. There was also food, raffles, a photo booth and other fun ways to be part of the action.
"The energy surrounding the build-up of this event has been tremendous,” said Jay Capron, marketing and communications director for the Crisis Center of South Suburbia. “Dancers have been forming creative team names and themes and there are some very dedicated supporters of the crisis center who have been finding new and exciting ways to raise funds for this event. It’s a great way to engage our young supporters.”
Proceeds from the event go toward services and education programs offered by the Crisis Center. Services include -- but are not limited to -- a 24-hour confidential hotline, emergency shelter, counseling, legal and medical advocacy, community policing, and prevention and education programs that are all offered free of charge.
All donations made to the Crisis Center are tax deductible.
“Domestic violence touches us all,” Capron said. “One in four women and one in seven men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.”