Hundreds run, raise money in memory of Missy Charbonneau
MANCHESTER - Hundreds gathered on a chilly Saturday morning at Crystal Lake for the third running of the Missy's Hope 5K Road Race and to the honor the memory of Melissa 'Missy' Cantin Charbonneau, a beloved woman murdered three years ago.
Charbonneau, 29, was shot to death Oct. 22, 2009, by her husband, Jonathan, in a murder-suicide at their home on Jewett Street in Manchester. She was attacked when she went to the house with her father, John Cantin, to pick up her belongings.
'It's not always easy when something of this nature and so close to you happens,' Cantin said in remarks before the race. 'However, volunteering your services to such a cause will help us feel better and live well. Melissa would want us to do that.'
Near a playground and away from the registration and face-painting tables, a makeshift memorial of flowers and photos of Charbonneau stood facing the lake. She is smiling in nearly every photo.
'I know Missy's story touched my heart and touched the hearts of everybody in New Hampshire,' said Gov. John Lynch, who signed Missy's Law, which was lobbied for by Cantin and made non-fatal strangulation a felony.
'Domestic violence is something that should never be forgotten; never forgotten,' said Mayor Ted Gatsas.
The first race was organized with help from Stephanie Donahue, a friend of Charbonneau, beginning in October 2010 to coincide with Domestic Violence Month.
'I did it because I needed to make sense of what happened,' said Donahue. 'I needed to do something to honor Melissa, and it was the first thing that popped into my head because Melissa loved to run.'
Donahue said the race typically draws about 400 participants and in the first two years raised more than $31,000 for the YWCA Domestic Violence Emergency Fund and The Missy's Hope Fund.
This year, the event had 350 participants and raised more than $17,000, said organizer Jennifer Ramsey.
The funds help children who have witnessed domestic violence, said Monica Zulauf, executive director of the Manchester YWCA.
'When kids come into our shelter, they typically come in with nothing,' Zulauf said. 'We try to get them feeling at home and normalized as quickly as we can.'