Jewish Journal

JCC Shooting Survivors Organize 10k Run Against Gun Violence

by Julie Gruenbaum Fax

October 1, 2009 | 4:15 pm

Mindy Finkelstein was 16 and Joshua Stepakoff was 6 when
white supremacist Buford Furrow shot them at summer camp.

Mindy Finkelstein and Joshua Stepakoff ran together once before – from white supremacist gunman Buford Furrow, who shot them when Mindy was a 16-year-old counselor and Joshua a 6-year-old camper at the North Valley Jewish Community Center in 1999.

Now, they are running again, this time in “Victory Over Violence,” a 10K run they organized to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the shooting while raising awareness about gun violence.

Furrow wounded five people at the JCC Aug. 10, 1999, and later that day shot and killed Filipino postman Joseph Ileto. Burrow is now serving a life sentence without possibility of parole.

The victims expressed skepticism when Furrow sent a letter from prison last month renouncing his neo-Nazi beliefs.

In August, Finkelstein and Stepakoff told the Jewish Journal’s Wendy Madnick that they are survivors, not victims.

“It took me eight or nine years to realize that I let this event control how I lived my life on a day-to-day basis, and that it didn’t have to be that way,” said Stepakoff, who was shot twice in the leg. “I have switched to thinking of it as I’m in control. He [Furrow] wanted me to see what he did as an act of hate, but I see it as a wonderful opportunity to do great things.” read more

The run will benefit Women Against Gun Violence, a Los Angeles-based organization that, among other things, pays the expenses of shooting victims who support the group’s cause by telling their stories, according to a story in the Daily News.

Victory Over Violence, including the 10k run and a kids’ 5k walk/run starts at 8 a.m. Sunday, with registration at 6:30 a.m. at the Matador Bookstore at Cal State Northridge, 18111 Nordhoff St. Fees are $30 for adults, $15 for CSUN students and $15 for the kids’ run. Information at www.wagv.org.

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