Marathons are the ultimate demonstration of strength, determination and resistance, and none more so than the famous Boston Marathon. For many, completing this race is the ultimate challenge of their athletic careers. When Kaitie Notarianni stepped up to the starting line on April 15, she had a bigger goal in mind.
Notarianni runs for Team Emily, a movement she started with her family after the death of her cousin, Emily Rechlicz.
Rechlicz, a victim of domestic abuse and sexual assault, committed suicide in 2013 while standing trial to bring her abuser to justice. At the time, she was a graduate student at Marywood University in Scranton, Pennsylvania studying to become a Physician’s Assistant. She was 22 years old.
“Team Emily started because our family did not really know how to channel our emotions after Emily’s passing,” Kaitie Notarianni said. “Our uncle, a marathoner, suggested we start running. We registered to run the 2013 Scranton Marathon, and soon, we realized that we could actually use running as a way to fundraise for organizations that help spread awareness about domestic violence.”
Since then, Team Emily has run a total of 15 races, represented by friends and family members, including Kaitie, Paige and Claire Notarianni, Michael and Madison Weis and Nicole Kianka.
“Running is an activity that allows us to be by ourselves but also come together to make a team effort that finds light in such a terrible situation,” Notarianni said.
The proceeds raised for Team Emily’s first race, the 2014 Philadelphia Love Run Half-Marathon, went to the Scranton Women’s Resource Center, where Rechlicz sought counseling during her trial. In this last race, Kaitie Notarianni raised $3,577 in support of the One Love Foundation.
The One Love Foundation was founded in 2010 in response to the murder of Yeardley Love, a University of Virginia lacrosse player, by her boyfriend one week before their college graduation. This foundation works to promote education about the signs of domestic abuse in an effort to avoid tragedies such as the Love and Rechlicz families have experienced.
“I was living with one of Yeardley’s teammates when Emily passed away,” Notarianni said. “She introduced me to the foundation, and it made me realize that had we had the education and training that OneLove provides, we might have been able to help Emily in her own relationship.”
One in four women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Running for Team Emily is just one way in which allies of domestic abuse survivors are stepping up to combat this epidemic.
As Kaitie Notarianni recovers from the Boston Marathon, Nicole Kianka is training for Team Emily’s next race: The New York Marathon this November.
“Maybe we can help save a life lost to domestic violence,” Notarianni said. “We want to join forces with OneLove to really start a movement.”