Before the official start of Diocesan Council 2016, the Christian Faith in Action (CFA) luncheon welcomed Dr. Kathy Dittman, a small animal doctor and member of St. Alban’s, Harlingen, as the keynote speaker. Dittman is an advocate for and devoted supporter of Prevent Child Abuse Texas (PCAT) and a participant in the organization’s Walk to Action each year.
The CFA Department encompasses the Restorative Justice, Recovery, Habitat for Humanity, and Environmental Stewardship ministries, as well as Good Samaritan Community Services (GSCS). On behalf of the advocacy for children, Dr. Jill Oettinger, CEO of GSCS, introduced Dittman to the gathering.
Dittman shared her family’s journey, which turned tragic in November 1998, when their two-year-old daughter, Maggie, was killed by her hired caregiver while Dittman and her husband, Mark, were at work. The cause of death was Shaken Baby Syndrome, and the Dittmans removed Maggie, who was braindead, from life support three days after her abuse.
What followed was a journey of anger and rage but one that led them to multiple agencies and even to the Texas State Capitol in Austin lobbying for efforts to prevent child abuse. One law that was successfully passed was for training for all licensed childcare workers in the state of Texas on Shaken Baby Syndrome.
In their continued journey of loss and grief, Dittman and her family attended a conference of Prevent Child Abuse Texas and joined in their efforts to fight child abuse in all forms for all Texas children. Part of PCAT’s efforts include the annual Walk to Action, which from 2008 to 2013 evolved into a 20-mile one-day walk through San Antonio, ending at the Alamo.
With the Dittman’s involvement at St. Alban’s, Harlingen, and the support of then rector Bishop David Reed, Team DWTX was formed and has consisted of 20+ walkers over the years. As a team, over $45,000 has been raised for PCAT.
In 2015, PCAT changed the format of the Walk to Action in an effort to draw more participation. Last November, the Walk was a 5K through the San Antonio Zoo with children and strollers most welcome. The Walks will now be held in several Texas locations, including the kick-off on April 2, 2016, in Harlingen.
All are invited to join in support of the Dittman’s journey and the amazing efforts to prevent child abuse across our state. Walks to Action will also be held in Corpus Christi and San Antonio this year. Learn more and join Team DWTX at http://www.preventchildabusetexas.org/walks.html.