The parents of murdered University of Wisconsin student Brittany Zimmermann announced a newly-named “Brittany Run” in remembrance of the 2008 killing of their 21-year-old daughter.
Zimmermann’s parents are hosting the formally named Brittany Zimmermann 5K Run/Walk in conjunction with Madison Area Crime Stoppers, according to a UW statement.
Crime Stoppers, a privately-funded organization, helps catch criminals and deters others from crime by rewarding a certain amount of money for information and tips given about local crimes, UW Police Officer Erik Pearce said.
According to Brittany’s mother, Joan Zimmermann, the run began when UW Dean of Students Lori Berquam approached her family with the idea of hosting a run in 2009.
Pearce, who is the UW Police Department liaison for Crime Stoppers, said with the first run, the proceeds were split between Crime Stoppers and the Brittany Zimmermann Reward Fund. However, Pearce added, in recent years all proceeds have gone toward Crime Stoppers.
The run, which will take place Sept. 29 at 9 a.m., will start at University Lot 60 this year, rather than its usual start at Library Mall, due to the current construction projects in the area, the UW statement said.
Similar to previous years, the run will consist of five kilometers and will follow the Howard Temin Lakeshore Path, the statement said. Pearce added the run will include prizes and rewards for participants and winners, making the run more attractive to Madison citizens.
The run, according to Pearce, is an outlet to show support to the family and other members of the community.
“The university suffered a blow,” Pearce said. “One of their own was taken from them tragically. [Through the run,] the students have a way of coming together.”
Pearce added as in previous years, Brittany’s parents will also be at the finishing line greeting all the participants, providing the run with more meaning.
According to Pearce, in addition to showing support to the grieving family, the purpose of the run is to keep Zimmermann’s murder fresh in peoples’ minds and to better help the solving of the case, which is still active. Several years after the murder, Zimmermann’s killer is still at large.
“Brittany’s murder has yet to be solved,” Pearce said. “Cases have a better solve rate if they are in the spotlight. This really does help give Brittany a legacy, the champion for crime prevention.”
Pearce added oftentimes with unsolved cases, they go under the radar, in which case there is no pressure for criminals to turn themselves in or for people with important knowledge to give tips.
Pearce estimated the run will include 400 participants this year. However, Zimmermann’s mother is hoping for even more participants.
“We had 300 [participants] last year,” she said. “My goal is 500. I really hope that people come out.”
The run has an entry fee of $25 for early registration, scheduled until Sept. 25, and a $30 fee for late registration. All proceeds will be donated to Crime Stoppers’ efforts on campus and in Dane County.