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In the nine years since Jody Marchand lost her 17-year-old daughter, Olivia, to a horrific act of domestic violence, she’s found a new life path to keep her grounded.
A major focus is the fundraiser she started several years ago called the Ride for Liv/Run for Liv. This year the event takes place on Sunday, July 14 with the first race kicking off at 8:30 a.m. Participants can register online or at the event. The day is defined by a choice of three bicycle races: 50 miles, 23 miles, or 6 miles, and a family fun run and 5K road race, which Marchand participates in every year. She said the Ride/Run is the happiest day of her life each year.
But things aren’t easier or better. They’re just different, she said.
“I’ll forever have the guilt and the pain, and I hate myself, because I didn’t get her out of there,” she said.
Marchand is referring to Olivia — “Liv” — and the violent incident that took her life. Olivia died at the hands of her father, Brian Marchand, say police. In a moment of rage, the father shot and killed his daughter, critically wounded his wife and then turned the gun on himself, according to police.
The grieving never ends, said Jody.
“You’ve got to move forward but there’s a part of you that doesn’t want to because you don’t want her to be forgotten,” she said.
Marchand founded the Live for Liv Foundation to keep Olivia’s memory alive, to raise awareness of domestic violence and to teach young women and men about the warning signs of a controlling nature. The money goes to Alternative House, a Lowell shelter for women of domestic violence, and to two graduating Westford Academy students chosen to receive the foundation’s scholarships.
“My goal is to get into the schools,” Marchand said. “Domestic violence is so prevalent. Shouldn’t we start educating earlier?”
Marchand wants to speak to middle schoolers.
She has appeared as a speaker before the Littleton Rotary, the Lowell Police Academy, the Westford Academy Class of 2019, the Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance, and the Medford Chamber of Commerce during its Women’s Empowerment Series in October.
All this added up to an extraordinary recognition on June 18 when Marchand was named an Unsung Heroine by the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women. She was nominated by state Rep. James Arciero, a Westford Democrat. The surprise recognition boosted her spirits after spending a day at the State House with hundreds of other Unsung Heroines.
“I’ll never forget it,” she said.
UPDATE – This story was updated on July 8 to include what the funds are used for.