SHAWNEE, Kan. - A Lenexa police officer is running 52 marathons in 52 weeks to raise money for child abuse victims and prevention.
With five runs already under his belt, 43-year old bob Schluben will run the Psycho WyCo Run Saturday.
"I'm going to be running basically in 50 degree weather in the mud," he said.
But Schluben said he's not worried about getting dirty because he's running for a cause he said does not receive enough attention.
"Child abuse is in every community and it's also in our community. A lot of people aren't aware of the extent of it as well as how we investigate it."
The father of two is planning to run one marathon each weekend for one year. He's created a web site where people and/or companies may donate money to Sunflower House. It's a non-profit agency serving Wyandotte and Johnson Counties. Their mission is to protect children in the community from physical and sexual abuse through education, advocacy, forensic and medical service.
Throughout his 22 years of experience as a police officer, Schluben has handled many child-abuse cases and witnessed how destructive and heartbreaking it is for those involved. He said the Sunflower House is a very helpful resource.
"We heavily rely upon Sunflower House to do investigations and do follow up interviews and get the basic information that we need to have a successful prosecution. It's hard to get on their [a child's] level and to be able to talk to them and to be able to relate to them and their perspective. We need a safe place like this [Sunflower House] where they can actually come here and do a good interview."
Michelle Herman, President and CEO of Sunflower House said child abuse is much more prevalent than most people realize.
"One out of four girls and one out of six boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18 and then there is a really high portion of abuse and neglect and physical abuse that happens," she said.
According to Herman about 83 percent of the 500 children that are interviewed at Sunflower House are children with sexual abuse allegations. The rest are primarily children with serious physical abuse allegations. When child abuse allegations are reported, law enforcement officials often refer children and their families to the Sunflower House.
There, the children are interviewed by staff members. The interview is digitally recorded and Law enforcement officials and child protective workers are able to watch from another room. This helps to ensure that the child will only have to interview once which helps reduce trauma experienced by the child.
"There are a lot of things that happen to people as adults because of abuse as children. It's tied to all kinds of medical problems obesity, mental health issues. There are a number of social impacts that happen to children from abuse," said Herman.
When allegations of physical or sexual abuse are reported, the Sunflower House also provides medical exams to children. They have a contract with Children's Mercy that allows physicians to come three times per week. Recently, due to funding, the Sunflower House has been forced to reduce the days the medical exams are provided.
One third of the funding for the Sunflower House comes from government resources and the remaining portion of the budget comes from private gifts throughout the year. One marathon at a time Schluben hopes he will be able to help raise funds to support the operations of the Sunflower House.
When all is said and done, Schluben will have run nearly 1,400 miles which is approximately the distance from Kansas City to Las Vegas.
A portion of the donations will also go to support S.A.F.E The Surviving Spouse and Family Endowment Fund. It exists to support the families of Law Enforcement Officers, Firefighters and Emergency Services Personnel in the Kansas City metropolitan area who have died while serving the community.
For more on Schluben's story, visit the website above or click on the media player to see him talk about the effort.