Family hosts annual Step Out Against Bullying walk

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Neighbors | Jessica Harker .A large crowd gathered holding balloons at Austintown Park on Oct. 14 for the Lauren Nicole Bowman memorial walk out against bullying.

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Neighbors | Jessica Harker .Large crowds gathered at Austintown Park for the third annual Lauren Bowman Step Out Against Bullying walk focused on bringing awareness to bullying.

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Neighbors | Jessica Harker .Community members gathered a pavillion in Austintown Park in preperation for the Lauren Nicole Bowman Step Out against bullying walk.

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Neighbors | Jessica Harker .Family and friends of Lauren Nicole Bowman, along with community members, gathered at Austintown Park on Oct. 14 for the third annual memorial Step Out Against Bullying walk.

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Neighbors | Jessica Harker .Robert Bowman, Lauren Bowman's father, gave a speech before the third annual memorial walk on Oct. 14 at Austintown Park.

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Neighbors | Jessica Harker .Family and friends gathered early Oct. 15 in a pavillion in Austintown Park blowing up balloons in preperation for the third annual Step Out Against Bullying memorial walk.

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Neighbors | Jessica Harker .Lauren Bowman's family led the walk around Austintown park Oct. 15 carrying dove balloons, separate from the rest of the community members gathered holding purple baloons.

By JESSICA HARKER

jharker@vindy.com

Lauren Nicole Bowman’s family hosted the third annual Step Out Against Bullying walk at Austintown Park on Oct. 14.

The walk is offered with the hope of bringing awareness to bullying.

The event was organized by Shawne Wilfong, Lauren’s aunt.

“It’s just to bring awareness to bullying, if people need help we have information for them numbers they can contact to get help,” Wilfong said.

The walk was around the park, ending at first base on one of the fields where balloons were released.

The family has an abundance of information available, including Stomp Out Bullying flyers that provided information on emergency numbers and chat rooms that can provide support.

“To let everyone know you don’t have to get bullied there are people to help you,” Wilfong said. “And if you see someone getting bullied to step in and take a stand.”

The event takes place every year in memory of Lauren Bowman, a student at St. Christine school who committed suicide in 2016.

Lauren played softball both for Austintown Girls Softball League and for Mill Creek Park. She was described by her aunt as a sweet girl and someone who loved dogs.

“She was a happy fun loving girl,” Wilfong said.

Wilfong said that the first year they had the walk she attached a card to the balloons that were released so when they are found they can be returned to the family.

She said that a few balloons were returned, including one found on a school baseball field and one by a man who said his dog discovered it on a walk.

“Its just eerie,” Wilfong said. “That’s how you can tell she’s here.”

The first walk was attended by more than 300 people according to Wilfong, but due to inclement weather less people were able to attend last year’s.

Community members were met by warm weather for October for the third walk, bringing out large groups including members of the Austintown girls softball team.

“We were blessed by good weather,” said Robert Bowman, Lauren’s father.

Robert gave a speech before the walk, thanking the community for coming out to support the family.

“We know you came out here not to take a stand against bullying but to support me and my wife and our family, and we appreciate you so much,” he said.

Robert told stories about Lauren, her relationship with her sisters and how she was during her lifetime.

“I miss my daughter dearly, I miss her every day,” Robert said.

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