Ensuring victim’s voices are heard

Courage Walk offers a time for crime victims and survivors to celebrate and acknowledge healing

Posted 4/9/19

“This is my Angel.” Glenda Gomez of Arvada looked down at the T-shirt she was wearing on April 4. “What’s important to me is not to remember what happened to her, but to remember her,” …

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Ensuring victim’s voices are heard

Courage Walk offers a time for crime victims and survivors to celebrate and acknowledge healing

Posted

“This is my Angel.”

Glenda Gomez of Arvada looked down at the T-shirt she was wearing on April 4.

“What’s important to me is not to remember what happened to her, but to remember her,” Gomez, 61, said. “Losing a child is an experience nobody should have to endure. But it happens to people every day.”

Gomez’s daughter Angel Delgado was murdered on Nov. 29, 2005.

About 4 a.m. that day, three men forced their way into the Arvada apartment Delgado and her boyfriend Vincent Martinez shared. The men ransacked the couple’s home in search for money and drugs, and eventually had Martinez and Delgado kneel on the floor and face each other, with their hands tied behind their backs.

The men held guns to their heads and shot both of them. Martinez survived, but Delgado did not.

The convicted murderers — Vincent Ortiz, 39; Mario Rios, 40; and Kenji Jones, 40 — are serving life sentences.

Delgado was 25 when she died. She was family-oriented, went to church and enjoyed working with the homeless, especially homeless youth, Gomez said. A proud graduate of McLain Community High School in Lakewood, Delgado was furthering her education by attending college to pursue a career in optometry or related field, Gomez said.

“It’s been almost 14 years,” Gomez said. “I still think about what should be, but is not.”

Wearing their T-shirts with Angel Delgado’s smiling face on them, Gomez and about 40 or 50 friends and family members, including the family of a relative who has also recently suffered the loss of a child, will be attending this year’s Courage Walk on April 13.

“When you’re traumatized, your world is turned upside down,” said Vista Exline, executive director of Victim Outreach Incorporated (VOI). “The Courage Walk is a way for us to recognize and honor what it takes to survive.”

But it has also become a benchmark for people, she added. They see each other at the walk year after year, and celebrate and acknowledge each other’s healing.

“That piece of it has become really important to survivors,” Exline said.

The Courage Walk, now in its 26th year, takes place each spring during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, celebrated April 7-13 this year with a theme of “Honoring Our Past. Creating Hope for the Future.”

The Courage Walk not only takes place to recognize crime victims’ and survivors’ strength and courage, it also is a time for the community to speak up for the rights of crime victims of today and the future, Exline said.

“The court process can sometimes feel like everything is about the defendants,” said Jan Ferguson, manager of the victims and witness center at the First Judicial District’s courthouse in Golden.

And navigating the judicial system can be daunting for victims who are going through a traumatizing event, Ferguson said.

That’s where the victims’ advocates come in. A victims’ advocate’s role goes far beyond providing resources and information, she added.

“We’ll be there, sitting by their side, providing that emotional support,” Ferguson said. But, perhaps most importantly, she said, is “we’re here to make sure their voices are heard.”

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