The 16th Annual Victims’ Rights Run & Walk in Collaboration with the Aimee Willard Endowed Scholarship Fund will be held Friday at noon to raise awareness of victims’ rights and to honor the memory of Aimee Willard, a George Mason University student-athlete who was raped and murdered in 1996.

“Not many people are aware of the fact that victims have rights,” said Rachel Lindsey, outreach coordinator of Sexual Assault Services.

Beginning in 1999, the Mason Department of Intercollegiate Athletics held the annual five-kilometer fun run to honor Willard and to raise money for a scholarship fund in her memory. Meanwhile, Sexual Assault Services had been organizing a separate walk/run to promote awareness of victims’ rights. In 2005, however, Mason Athletics and Sexual Assault Services merged the two events.

“We decided that since [the events] tended to happen around the same time and had such similar motivations and purposes, it made a lot of sense for us to join our efforts,” Lindsey said. “The goal is to highlight that victims have rights and to focus very specifically on a member of our community who was made a victim.”

In an effort to increase Mason students’ participation in the event, the fun run’s organizers have waived registration fees for participants able to present a valid student identification card.

Brianna Kennedy, a junior communication major involved in public relations for the fun run, encourages individual students to form their own teams as well. Mason President Alan Merten will give a welcome speech to kick off the event. Merten’s remarks will be followed by an address from Billie Sims, a former teammate of Willard’s, who regularly attends the walk/runs in her honor. The ROTC color guard will then give a presentation, and the race will commence.

According to Lindsey, the walking course is slightly different than the running course.

“It’s basically Braddock to 123 to University Drive to Patriot Circle,” Lindsey said.

After the race is over, prizes will be awarded in categories such as largest student team, fastest student runner, fastest runner and most spirited team.

“It’s a really nice, meaningful event that gives people a real chance to be exposed to some important issues [and it] helps raise important funds for some important activities,” Lindsey said.

Online registration for the event, which closes at midnight tonight, can be completed at  The online registration fees for community members is $20. Faculty and staff must pay $15 if participating as individuals or $10 if signing up as a member of a team.

Race-day registration, which costs $25 for non-students, and check-in for the walk/run begins at 10:30 a.m. at the Center for the Performing Arts on the Fairfax campus.