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Empty Place set to spread the message

10/15/2012

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

Empty Place at the Table on Saturday at the Robbins Center was a social gathering with a serious message.

"It's not just about those who've lost (their) lives to domestic violence, but who've lost their livelihood, their potential and have retreated from society because of domestic violence," said Kelley Parker of Manitou Springs, Colo.

The event kicked off a capital campaign for Jana's Campaign Inc., and Parker, a board of directors member, is the campaign chairwoman.

Jana Mackey was a University of Kansas student and Hays native who police believe was killed as a result of domestic violence in 2008.

She was a sexual assault and domestic violence advocate and lobbyist on women's issues.

"She packed a great deal of life into her short 25 years," said Christie Brungardt, Mackey's mother.

Since her death, Christie and Curt Brungardt, Mackey's stepfather, along with other family members and supporters have created Jana's Campaign Inc. to bring awareness to domestic violence issues.

"We decided that if you teach young people about leadership, like Curt and I do, you have a responsibility to practice what you preach," Christie Brungardt said.

As an organization, they promote educational and prevention issues at the state, national and international level. Now they have expanded efforts into a capital campaign to raise funds to build programs and hire staff members.

"I am so proud of what we've accomplished as volunteers, but so much more work needs to be done," Curt Brungardt said.

Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt spoke about the state's role in domestic violence.

"We are certainly continuing to work on making sure that the tools in the toolbox are sufficiently in place," Schmidt said.

That includes the batterer's intervention program, using the program that makes the most sense to solve the problem.

"We're making progress," he said. "We have a long way to go."