Abuse Survivor Completes Journey of a Lifetime
Around the State
It was like a scene from a movie.
Lauren Book-Lim, her blonde hair pulled beneath a Nike cap, fell to her knees at the steps of the old Capitol as dozens of friends and supporters cheered her. Nearby, speakers blared the '80s anthem "Here I Go Again," and Book-Lim, having reached the end of a 500-mile journey, burst into tears.
Why such spectacle? Book-Lim, 25, spent almost three weeks walking from Aventura to Tallahassee to raise awareness for sexual abuse victims. As a girl, she herself was abused by a nanny, and she began her walk at the home where that abuse took place.
On Tuesday, she completed her journey to the capital, where she thanked the small army of supporters who walked with her or offered encouragement.
"I'm such a lucky young lady, because I'm able to do this for so many people," she told the crowd of onlookers, many of whom donned bright blue shirts bearing the name of Book-Lim's nonprofit organization, Lauren's Kids.
Book-Lim began the last mile of her course Tuesday at Governor's Square Mall. She and more than 100 fellow walkers paraded up Apalachee Parkway, finally reaching the Capitol around noon as they wiped sweat off their faces.
Following many hugs and tears, Book-Lim's father, lobbyist Ron Book, gave a speech commending his daughter's strength. But it was Book-Lim herself who commanded the most applause as she took to the lectern.
Her voice breaking periodically, Book-Lim called for legislation to aid abuse victims and fund statewide sexual assault services. She's also advocating for SB 1284, which would impose a stiffer penalty on certain sex offenders for being near schools and other places frequented by children.
The pleas did not fall on deaf ears: Several top lawmakers were in attendance to voice their support.
"You have inspired your government to change law," Senate President Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, told Book-Lim. "You have shaped a better Florida."
Toward the end of the event, Gov. Charlie Crist made a quick appearance, prompting many in the crowd to whip out digital cameras. Still, Book-Lim remained the star, reminding the crowd about the importance of reporting sexual abuse.
"If we don't talk about it, then there's a cycle of abuse that continues on and on and on," she said.
During the last minutes she spoke, threatening gray skies finally gave way to rain. People in the audience began to scatter, but Book-Lim remained at the lectern to deliver a final message.
"I survived," she said. "And I'm OK."
Lyndsey Lewis can be reached at email@example.com, or at (850) 727-0859.