Football player-turned-activist to raise awareness about sexual assault in keynote address

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Ohio State will host athlete and sexual assault prevention advocate Kyle Richard Thursday from 7-8:15 pm in the Blackwell Ballroom as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Credit: Sarah Szilagy | Patricia B. Miller Special Reporter

Ohio State will host athlete and sexual assault prevention advocate Kyle Richard for a keynote address Thursday from 7-8:15 p.m. in the Blackwell Inn Grand Ballroom as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month .

Running from Monday to April 22, SAAM is a university initiative hosted by the Student Wellness Center to raise awareness about sexual violence and prevention. The keynote address has 300 seats available on a first-come, first-served basis and is one of many events happening on campus throughout the month.

Blake Marble, director of the Student Wellness Center, said everyone at the university can play a part in raising awareness on sexual violence, and SAAM events, including Richard’s speech, aim to educate Buckeyes.

“We all contribute to a safe and healthy campus culture,” Marble said. “We want to educate folks on that, regardless of your knowledge base or your experience or the role that you have.”

Richard is a sports activist and speaker who has devoted his life to raising awareness about sexual, domestic and gun violence, according to the Student Wellness Center website . He said he was inspired to begin his activism after one pivotal night in college.

Richard, a former football player for the State University of New York, said he was at a party during his junior year in 2017 when a friend noticed a man taking advantage of a girl who was inebriated in the bathroom.

After attempting to confront the man, Richard said the man pulled out a gun and fired several shots.

“He ended up hitting me twice. One went through my right leg and the other through my left leg,” Richard said. “We went back inside trying to find cover. He let more shots off and ended up hurting my friend Mike, who survived, but he got hit in the shoulder. It was a crazy, traumatic night.”

Despite the injuries, Richard said he was able to finish out his junior football season two weeks later. He dedicated the rest of his football career to his friend who was shot while he healed. ESPN picked up Richard’s story , and by the time he was a senior at SUNY, he had hundreds of survivors and victims of sexual violence reaching out to him to tell their stories.

Richard said received the Next Generation Leadership Award from Kristin’s Fund — a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness and preventing sexual assault and domestic violence — entering his senior year in 2018, according to the nonprofit’s website. Since then, Richard has spoken to numerous colleges, athletic teams, Greek life organizations and high schools.

Additional events during SAAM include Empowerment Yoga Monday from 10:20-11:20 a.m., a wellness walk Tuesday from 2-3 p.m. and a presentation on building healthy relationships on April 22, according to the Student Wellness Center’s website.

“One of the primary goals of [SAAM] is to raise awareness of the resources and work being done on Ohio State’s campus to support violence prevention holistically and to support those individuals who may be survivors and victims of sexual violence,” Marble said.

Additional information about SAAM events at Ohio State and the keynote address can be found on the Student Wellness Center’s website .

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