"How rewarding it is, to look six years later and how many people are out here supporting this cause," Boniface told the crowd gathered in The Mill's parking lot before the walk began

He talked about how critical the funds raised are for SARC's mission.

"Especially at a time when our federal government and our state government keep reducing funding to us, the funds that we raise through this program really help with them providing the services that are so vital in our community," Boniface said.

Many changes


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Bane noted the way law enforcement handled domestic violence incident during the early 1970s was "pitiful." He said officers would not get involved in situations and would just refer a victim to a court commissioner.

"I would never have imagined this back in 1972 [the year Bane joined the Sheriff's Office], and looking at the men that are here I think that is a very good indication of the support in Harford County, Maryland and in this country that the women now have that they should have had a long time ago," the sheriff said.

Bane said "there is still way too much domestic violence," though, and he encouraged those present to keep fighting it.

One walker said he has dealt with a loved one's struggle with domestic violence.

Doni Amato, 21, of Havre de Grace, took part in his first walk Saturday, walking on behalf of a woman he considers his mother.

"Since I was in middle school, she took me in as one of her own kids, and she's the only family I have, and I will not let anyone lay a hand on her," he said,

The woman, whom he did not name for her safety, took him under her wing when he was in middle school and struggling with his sexual orientation.

"She's been in a lot of bad relationships where men will beat her and use her," he said.

Amato explained she was the first person that he told he was gay, and his biological family "disowned" him when he came out to them.

He talked after the walk about intervening when she was being attacked by a man, and dealing with the lingering psychological damage of abuse.

"It is scary trying to wake your mom up from a nightmare and having her think you're one of the men that has beat her or used her," Amato said.

He said SARC has helped his mother "a lot," and the organization has been there any time she has needed assistance.

"They don't ask for money," Amato said. "They're there to help you 24 hours a day, regardless of whether it's a holiday, regardless of the time and regardless of the weather."