Growing up the son of a single mother in the projects of Monaca — a borough near Pittsburgh, Pa. — Josh Nadzam said he was no stranger to dating violence.
“There was a lot of that going on in my neighborhood,” Nadzam said.
Today, the 25-year-old has set out to make sure that dating violence, a rarely-discussed issue, can no longer be ignored.
The former University of Kentucky track athlete is running from Lexington to Frankfort, hoping to raise awareness and support for proposed legislation to protect victims of intimate partner abuse in dating relationships.
The 25-mile run is the longest Nadzam has ever attempted.
“The most I’ve ever run is 14 miles, so this is going to be tough,” Nadzam said.
But he said the cause is worth the sacrifice.
“Whatever kind of pain I’m feeling … it’s nothing compared to people who experience domestic violence,” Nadzam said.
Nadzam explained that Kentucky is the only state without some kind of civil protection for dating violence victims who have not lived in the same home or had a child with their abuser.
Legislators have been unsuccessful so far in their attempts to change Kentucky’s current law, which would allow these types of victims to get emergency restraining orders.
“I don’t think some people even know about it,” Nadzam said.
The issue became even more special to Nadzam when he began working as the development specialist at GreenHouse17, a Lexington shelter formerly known as Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program.
Working with victims brought the statistics to life, Nadzam said, and made him even more passionate about the cause.
“It stops becoming just numbers, it becomes people,” Nadzam said. “It becomes families.”
He said he would be thinking of those victims as he’s running — he won’t quit because they can’t quit.
“If you’re in a domestic violence situation, you don’t have that choice,” Nadzam said.
Nadzam planned to run from 11 a.m. until about 2:15 p.m. today.
He planned to head toward Frankfort from downtown Lexington using Leestown Road, continuing onto the East-West Connector. He then planned to take Martin Luther King Boulevard to East Main Street and then turn and head toward Capital Avenue.
He planned to end his run with a celebration at the Capitol Rotunda from 2:15 until 2:45 p.m.
Nadzam said he hopes to catch the attention of the public and legislators alike, who can then advocate for a change in state law.
His monetary goal is to raise $5,000 for GreenHouse17 by the time he crosses the finish line. As of Wednesday evening, donations totaled almost $4,000.
Additional information about Nadzam’s campaign is available at http://igg.me/at/run2frankfort/x/6229676.