Bre Lasley, the target of a violent attack, shares her story of survival
Fight and keep on fighting! We are not defined by what happens to us, but by the decisions we make to go on living — and fighting, no matter what the “attacker” is. For more than 21 years, the Gingerbread House has been sharing this message with children who have been abused and betrayed by those they trust most. Tuesday, Nov. 5, at noon at the Horseshoe Casino Riverdome, the Gingerbread House will celebrate decades of bringing healing and hope to children with its annual Partners in Prevention Luncheon. Keynote speaker Bre Lasley, attempted murder survivor and co-founder with Elizabeth Smart of Fight Like Girls, will bring a message of throwing #LoveandPunches into the fight.
On Sept. 23, 2015, Lasley and her sister, Kayli, were brutally attacked in their home by a man released from prison after serving 14 years. They fought! After struggling with their assailant for more than six minutes, a Salt Lake City police officer (that was responing to another call), heard Kayli screaming, entered the home and shot and killed the assailant.
Lasley thought her fight was over when the man who attempted to murder her was dead. “That man was our human attacker, but the depression, anxiety and stress following that horrific night made me realize he wasn’t my only ‘attacker,’ and the fight was far from over.”
Lasley and Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped near Salt Lake City and held captive nine months, saw the similarity in their battles and founded Fight Like Girls to encourage girls to keep fighting and to stop victim-blaming. Fight Like Girls spreads hope to people recovering from and battling life’s challenges. Whatever the “attacker” is — domestic abuse, violent assault, depression or bullying and more the mission of FightLikeGirls.org is to empower all to keep fighting, to stop victim-blaming, to have hope and to heal.
This message of healing and hope is the same one that Children’s Advocacy Centers like the Gingerbread House repeat over and over to help children heal from abuse while holding offenders accountable. The Gingerbread House has directly served over 11,936 child abuse victims since it opened its doors in 1998. Statistics from National Children’s Alliance show that Children’s Advocacy Centers save their communities as much as $1,000 per child abuse case by streamlining the process, creating efficiencies and providing effective services. By this conservative estimate alone, the Gingerbread House has saved the Northwest Louisiana community over $11.9 million.
The Partners in Prevention Luncheon is the major annual fundraiser for the Gingerbread House, ensuring that all services continue to be provided free of charge for child abuse victims and their families. Funds raised at the luncheon are used to support the comprehensive Child Advocacy Program for child victims of sexual abuse, severe physical abuse and child sex trafficking including forensic interviews, multidisciplinary investigations, child life, family advocacy, and traumafocused counseling services, as well as prevention education for children and adults and professional training in our community. Unrestricted funds raised at the luncheon are also used to leverage additional funding by serving as a match for several grants that require a local cash match. Over 900 child abuse victims and over 31,000 children and adults in our community benefit from the funds raised at the Partners in Prevention luncheon every year.
“So many of the children and families we serve have been through so much that they feel overwhelmed by their circumstances,” said Jessica Milan Miller, executive director. “In the 16 years I’ve led the amazing team at the Gingerbread House, our guiding principle has been ‘from victims to survivors to thriving survivors’… to help innocent children and youth who have been hurt in the worst possible ways navigate the healing process so that they not only overcome their abuse but go on to lead happy, healthy lives,” says Miller.
By sponsoring a table or purchasing tickets to the Gingerbread House’s Partners in Prevention Luncheon, you are committing to helping make Northwest Louisiana a safer place for all of our children. Your purchase of a $125 ticket, a $1,500 table for 10, a sponsorship of $1,500, $3,000 or $5,000 or a charitable donation in any amount helps fund preventive programs that reach over 31,000 children and adults annually in the hope of preventing child abuse.
There are 25 agencies representing law enforcement, child protective services, prosecution, medical and mental health that help to carry out the hope and healing mission of the Gingerbread House. The Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office is a vital part of the multidisciplinary team at the Gingerbread House.
“I don’t have the words to describe the value of the Gingerbread House to Caddo Parish. It is a godsend for children, families and the entire criminal justice system. Simply put, the Gingerbread House is irreplaceable in our Northwest Louisiana community,” says Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator.
Another of the agencies that help carry out the hope and healing mission of the Gingerbread House is the Caddo Parish District Attorney’s Office.
“Child sexual assault cases are some of the most complex and heartbreaking matters that we prosecute. Forensic interviews have changed the entire landscape of sex crimes prosecution, and the Gingerbread House is an integral component of our service to children and the community,” says Ron Christopher Stamps, assistant district attorney, chief, Special Victims Unit.
To reserve tickets for the Gingerbread House Partners in Prevention Luncheon, sponsor a table or become a $1,500, $3,000 or $5,000 sponsor, call 318-674-2900 or visit www.gingerbreadhousecac.org.