Hundreds take steps toward ending domestic violence

Francis X. Donnelly
The Detroit News

Sterling Heights – If the participants of Tara’s Walk Saturday needed a reminder about the cause they supported, they received a jolting one on the eve of the event.

Alicia Standerfer, left, of New London, Wis., and her long-time best friend and college roommate Shana Badgley, right, of Mason, MI, walk along the bike trail in front of Freedom Hill County Park. Alicia is Tara Grant's sister.

Late Friday night and five miles away, a Macomb Township man shot his wife before turning the gun on himself. The woman died while the man is critically injured.

For participants in the 5K walk, it was grimly familiar.

Tara Grant of Washington Township was killed and dismembered by her husband, Stephen Grant, in 2007. Grant was convicted of second-degree murder and is serving 50 to 80 years in prison.

Tara’s family and the support group Turning Point joined together to host Tara’s Walk, an annual event that promotes awareness of domestic violence and raises money for its victims.

Tara’s sister, Alicia Standerfer, as she has every year, traveled to Michigan to attend the event.

“We want to help other families so they don’t go through that,” said Standerfer, who lives in New London, Wisc. near the Michigan border, a 600 mile trip to the event.

She didn’t come alone. She was joined by her family, including her two children and Tara’s two kids, whom she adopted.

Tara’s children, Lindsey and Ian, 15 and 13, are doing well, she said.

When Standerfer recalls her sister, she still wishes Tara had come to her for help. On the outside, Tara seemed to have it all, a good job, good marriage, good upper middle class life.

That’s one of the hallmarks of domestic violence, she said. People keep those types of trouble hidden from the outside world.

“We only show people what we want them to see,” she said.

Turning Point, a domestic violence support group based in Mt. Clemens, echoed Standerfer’s views.

Karan Bates-Gasior, the group’s director of development, said that’s why it’s so important for events like Tara’s Walk to spread the word about the problem.

“Turning Point is relentless in its effort to end domestic violence,” she said. “Together we can make a difference.”

The event, now in its 9th year, has witnessed growing participation with several hundred people turning out Saturday at the Freedom Hill Amphitheter.

Besides the 5K walk, there was face painting, pumpkin painting, caricature sketches and a picnic lunch.

Families like the Winters of Utica attended whole -- mom, dad, and their two children.

“It’s a good cause, great cause,” said the dad, Dave Winters. “”We need to shine a light on it.”

Winters said he had a friend who experienced abuse at the hands of her husband. She eventually extricated herself from the relationship but it was a torturous path.

Standerfer’s annual trip to Macomb County is always a bittersweet experience, she said.

On one hand, it’s a place of much sadness. On the other, local residents had rallied behind her family through the ordeal.

“It’s coming back to a community that supported us during one of the worst times in our lives,” she said.

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Twitter: @francisXdonnell