If you’re planning on attending the fair on Friday, Aug. 26, wear purple. You’ll be in good company.
The Kitsap County Fair & Stampede will be teaming up with the national Man Up Crusade® to bring “Purple Day” to the Kitsap County Fair & Stampede.
The Man Up Crusade is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating public awareness about the issue of domestic violence. The Man Up Crusade chose professional rodeo and the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) as its vehicle to spread the word about the epidemic of domestic violence and teen dating violence.
Organizers of the Kitsap County Fair & Stampede have dedicated Aug. 26 as Man Up Crusade Purple Day. Across the nation, the color purple and the purple ribbon has been adopted to show support for victims and advocates to honor those who have lost their lives at the hands of someone the once loved.
On Purple Day, all rodeo participants, fans and support personnel are encouraged to wear purple to show their support for this cause.
According to Kitsap County Sheriff Gary Simpson, sheriff’s deputies will be working in uniform, but hope to wear purple bandanas.
There will be a table at the rodeo entrance where fair attendees can buy purple beaded necklaces and bracelets. A raffle for a western-style belt buckle is planned and sponsors are hoping to sell T-shirts.
Additionally, the day is being dedicated to the memory of Kim Miller, a former Kitsap County rodeo queen in 1998, who was killed by her husband in an act of domestic violence that happened in Oregon in 2007.
Kim’s twin brother, Gus Miller, remembers her as someone who had no enemies.
“She was someone who helped others,” Gus Miller said. “After high school, she moved to (near Canby) Oregon and helped other young women who were in trouble learn about rodeo.”
As farm kids in Montana, prior to moving to Port Orchard at the age of 12, both Gus and Kim knew the ins and outs of farm animals. But Kim was drawn to horses.
“She loved the rodeo,” he said. “Barrel racing was her thing.”
The twins graduated from South Kitsap High School in 1996. They had a tight-knit family, including their parents and an older brother, who now live in Ellensburg. Gus is a construction worker and lives in Ollala.
The family was in complete shock when Kim became the victim in a murder-suicide on Nov. 17, 2007, at the hands of her husband. They were having marriage problems, but Kim had decided to stick it out.
“He just lost it,” Gus said. “And they left a 9-year-old daughter behind.”
As twins, they always stuck up for each other.
“It was a huge loss and we’ll never get over it,” he said.
Gus’s wife Krischon Miller knew both Gus and Kim in high school.
“She loved to have fun,” Krischon said. “We had so much fun growing up, whether it was going out dancing or having barbecues. And she was all about horses, always horses.”
Although the family has not spoken publicly about Kim’s death in the past, Krischon and Gus hope that by doing so they can help others.
“If this helps even one other family to not have to go through what Gus’s family had to — if it helps one person get out of a bad situation, then her passing has not been in vain,” Krischon said.
Kim’s friend Stephanie Hettema, who knew her since elementary school, recalled someone who was always there for her.
“There was this time when I was suppose to be planning my little sister’s 21st birthday party,” Hettema said. “But I was overwhelmed with school and work. I told Kim and the very next day she had it all planned, with a limousine, and dinner reservations for my sister, 10 of her friends and she and I, who were the chaperones.”
Kim was always cheerful, Hettema said.
“She was one of those people who could find the silver lining in everything,” her friend said. “And when we camped when she was rodeoing, she’s bring the music and we’d all dance around the fire.”
The Man Up Crusade also encourages all fairs and rodeos they partner with to identify a charity of choice in their community to bring awareness and generate funds to those local organizations in need. The Kitsap County YWCA will be the charity of choice for the Man Up Crusade Purple Day at the rodeo.
“As Kitsap’s only domestic violence service provider, YWCA knows all too well the impact of domestic violence on our community,” said Denise Frey, executive director of the YWCA Kitsap. “The murder of our former rodeo queen Kim Miller at the hands of her abusive partner is a stark reminder of the danger to any victim trapped in an abusive relationship. There IS a way out and YWCA is honored to be a part of this event and appreciates the support of Man Up Crusade and our local community.”
Kitsap County emergency 911 records show an average of 5,862 domestic violence incidents annually. An average of 1,545, or slightly more than 25 percent of those incidents, were categorized as a “potential danger to life” or “life in jeopardy.”
The Man Up Crusade was founded in 2012 by Sheriff Kieran Donahue, Canyon County, Idaho and his wife, Jeanie. Sheriff Donahue and his wife have been involved in the rodeo business for most of their lives and felt that the strength and old west ethics of the American cowboy and cowgirl would be appropriate ambassadors to take on this difficult issue.
“The cowboy is an iconic image of strength and fortitude that has transcended generations not just in the west but throughout the United States and many other countries,” said Sheriff Donahue. “That is why I felt it was so important to involve this lifestyle from the very beginning. The cowboys and cowgirls can once again lead by example and together with rodeo’s enduring fans show that by working together we can make a difference.”
Two of professional rodeo’s long time national corporate sponsors, Wrangler® and Montana Silversmiths® became supporters of the Man Up Crusade in 2013.
“Awareness is the first step in enacting change, and it is important that people understand there are programs and help available right here,” said Man Up Crusade Executive Director Jeanie Donahue. “Secondly, it is just as important to understand that these programs are in need of financial assistance.”
According to the crusade, domestic violence is defined as the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior by an intimate partner against another. It is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background. Domestic violence results in physical injury, psychological trauma and sometimes death. The consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and truly last a lifetime.
National statistics on domestic violence are staggering:
• One in four women and one in seven men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
• Every nine seconds in the U.S. a woman is assaulted or beaten.
• Every day in the United States, on average, three women and one man are killed by their intimate partner.
• Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women — more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.
• Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.
For more, go to www.manupcrusade.com.