Former Panther Steve Smith holds fundraiser to prevent domestic violence

Families took to the bowling alley hoping not only to score some strikes but also to help “strike out domestic violence.”

It was all for a fundraiser one professional football player started in Charlotte a couple years ago.

“It’s really nice and refreshing to see an NFL player take a stand against domestic violence,” said Gerard Littlejohn, Executive Director for the Steve Smith Family Foundation.

Former Panthers Wide Receiver Steve Smith signed autographs and met with fans who took some “spare” time today to do a little bowling at park lanes.  While certainly a good time, the event does raise money and awareness for a very serious cause near and dear to Smith’s heart.

“My mother is a survivor of domestic violence so understanding what it is what we went through as kids,” said Smith.

Two years ago, Smith started the Strike Out Domestic Violence event, which has raised tens of thousands of dollars to help victims.  But he says one of the best things about it is:  “Being a voice for the voiceless, being a voice for the people who may not feel comfortable stepping up.”

With the support from people like Smith, Veronica Cruz managed to find her voice after falling victim to domestic violence.  She’s paying it forward by sharing her story with others.

Sometimes domestic violence seems ambiguous to people who haven’t experienced it and so by providing details to my experience, it helps people get better insight into the issue.

And it’s an issue that affects more than 9,000 people across Mecklenburg County and that doesn’t include those that have gone unreported.

“It's really bringing awareness to an epidemic that spans across all classes, and spans cross all races,” said Littlejohn.  “The numbers are growing I think it's one in four women may be impacted by domestic violence in their lifetime so really is an epidemic.”

Domestic violence can include assault, rape, threats, and harassing phone calls.  If you or someone you know experiences any of these, police urge you to speak up and call 911 immediately.

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