WOODBURY, Minn. - Hundreds gathered for the first annual "Dani J 5K" at Colby Lake Park in Woodbury on Saturday to honor the life of Danielle Jelinek and raise awareness for families dealing with domestic abuse.
"The turnout is phenomenal," said Jan Jelinek. "(Danielle) is smiling right now."
It's been three months since Danielle's body was recovered in Chisago Lake Township. The 27-year-old had been missing since December. Her personal belongings were found at the home of her former boyfriend. He remains in jail on unrelated drug charges and is still considered a person of interest in the case.
"She had amazing energy and love for life," says her mother Jan. "Friends, family, co-workers and complete strangers are here. It's beautiful."
Money raised supported the Domestic Abuse Project, which looks to end the cycle of domestic abuse through therapy and crisis support.
Families dealing with similar situations also attended the fun run, including the brother of Mandy Matula, an Eden Prairie woman, who remains missing.
"We are all here for each other," says Steven Matula. "It's sad how we know each other, but we all have to raise awareness so things like this don't happen."
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