Support Serena van orman

In her race for Firefly

About Serena’s Journey

As I seek to complete the 14th annual Carmel Marathon while running with an almost 15 pound mattress (weighing only about 90 pounds), I want to invite everyone to join me in raising awareness and support for survivors of sexual assault by donating to Firefly Family and Children Alliance.

This will be my second time running the Carmel Marathon and my 3rd marathon altogether.  Given that this race is occurring during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I felt strongly in designating it as fundraiser for the exceptional nonprofit, Firefly Family and Children Alliance, who provide essential services such as resources, support and treatment to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. 

As some of you may know, I have volunteered with Firefly (formerly Families First) for quite a few years now, first as a volunteer support group facilitator and now a hospital response advocate. I also serve on their Young Professionals Advisory Board as the Education Chair.

The inspiration for running a marathon with a mattress is based on the senior thesis piece, Mattress Performance (Carry That Weight), of political activist and performer, Emma Sulkowicz, who in September 2014, began carrying around a 50-pound mattress (akin to the ones used in Columbia University’s dorms) all around campus until the end of spring semester and her May graduation ceremony after the university refused to expel the student who raped her in her dorm room. 

Just like Sulkowicz and every 1 in 4 women undergraduate students, I also experienced rape and sexual assault as a college student. Being a survivor is something that to this day, I sometimes still struggle with the aftermath of. The analogy of it being something heavy that you forever carry with you was another reason running with a mattress resonated so strongly. I’ve also found long distance running to have a great deal in common with trauma recovery, in that it’s a lot of just focusing on your next breath and next step and pushing yourself forward, even when you can’t see the finish line. 

Since recovering from my total hysterectomy in December, I have been training diligently for this endeavor — something that cannot be said to have happened as strictly for any of my previous marathons lol. I have been averaging 40-50 miles weekly on top of 2 hour weighted jump rope workouts and 300-750 floor weighted vest stairclimber workouts. 

I like to think that the 18 year old freshmen who almost successfully ended her own life after being raped would be proud of the healing and purpose I’ve since found in volunteering with Firefly to support survivors and establishing a career in human sexuality working with college students to ensure they learn and know what I didn’t at the time: That every one of us has the right to be free from sexual violence and that there is no shame in being a survivor; That that shame falls entirely on those perpetuate rape and the culture which allows it to continue to occur far too commonly and often. 

To every survivor and every single person who donates or has ever supported and contributed to my or any survivors’ healing, I just want to say thank you. On April 13th and every day beyond that, I hope to make you all so proud.

If you are having issues with this form please call Brian Short at (463) 212-8216.