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Wednesday April 29th, 2015

Posted at 7:30pm

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Cassandra Kaake during her sixth month of pregnancy, taken by Jeff Durham’s daughter Alexa. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Durham)

While crowds will run along Windsor’s riverfront this Sunday for the promise of a finisher’s medal, a team of two women will be running in memory of a lost friend and her unborn child.

Dawn Giordimaina-Lussier and Michelle Vitale have signed up for the Le Chocolat half marathon in honor of Cassandra Kaake and her unborn daughter Molly.

Kaake was killed in her home in Windsor during her seventh month of pregnancy back in December 2014. Friends and family have since struggled to find normalcy in their lives.

Police arrested the alleged killer Matthew Brush earlier this year.

Many feel Brush’s first-degree murder charge was an injustice to Kaake’s daughter-to-be Molly who went un-recognized being as she was not yet born.

Giordimaina-Lussier said Kaake was like a sister to her, her “go-to girl” and they were always there for each other.

“After losing Cassie and Molly, I found it very hard to get back into a routine,” said Giordimaina-Lussier. “I could feel myself falling back into unhealthy habits and needed a distraction to keep myself from falling further into depression. Michelle and I both had running as a common hobby and decided we would start training for a half marathon to run in honor of Cassie and Molly. We called it ‘Project Distraction’…when I run I feel closer to Cassie, I feel like I run now for her…it brings me a certain kind of peace.”

Not only will the two be running in memory of their cherished friend, but they will also hope to bring attention to a movement by the name of “Molly Matters,” started by Kim Badour and inspired by Kaake’s unborn child Molly who also died with her while she was killed.

The virtual petition reads “our laws in Canada state that while her baby girl is recognized as a child, she is not considered a human being under Canadian criminal law because she had not yet exited her mother’s womb. I would like to change that law.”

Badour is bringing up a bill introduced to parliament by Ken Epp in 2008 called Bill C-484 which was known as the Unborn Victims of Crime Act which, had it passed, would have made it a criminal offence to harm a child while within the womb due to inflicting harm on the mother. Therefore, the perpetrator would be charged with a double murder.

The bill made it to second stage of parliament, however due to an election it was put on a back burner and forgotten.

Kaake and her daughter continue to affect lives of many. She was described by Jeff Durham, the father of her unborn child, as a “self-reliant unique individual type.” The two met through work and for five years fostered a relationship. Though they both had stubborn personalities, Durham said she was his best friend and he was very much in love with her.

“She jumped out of a plane for her birthday one year. I told her she was crazy but it was something she wanted to do, and she loved it,” said Durham. “In the last while I realized how much she was ready to become a mother. We spoke of it in passing many times but it wasn’t until she was pregnant with Molly that I realized exactly what it meant to her. She just wanted to do right by her. Wouldn’t even have a glass of wine – she just wanted to build a perfect nest for her baby and do everything right as she knew how.”

It’s Kaake’s love for her friends and family, which has inspired Vitale and Giordimaina-Lussier to run in her and Molly’s honor. With the Molly Matters movement at their side, they are running for a purpose – to bring the people of Windsor who have been touched by the death of Kaake and Molly to come together and remember them in a common place.

“I believe everything happens for a reason,” said Giordimaina-Lussier. “When Cassie and Molly were taken from us, I had a hard time believing there was a valid reason why. The Molly Matters movement is something Cassie would have found honor in…I hope by participating in this run that it helps bring awareness to the fact there needs to be a change in our laws. Many people do not even know there are no laws protecting pre-born victims of crime and that by adding their signature to our petition will bring us one step closer to achieving change.”

With 7,925 signatures as of Wednesday, the petition has taken residents by a storm and continues to bring groups of people from very different walks of life together for one common goal.

“Molly Matters is what I have left. It’s all I can do to be her father now,” said Durham. “If Cassie were here we’d be doing it together. So much has been taken from me and now this is what is left. This is not politics or opinion, this is right and wrong. It is a parent’s job to speak up if their child has been wronged until it can be right. I can’t imagine that it is necessary to have to speak up in such a way. I can’t imagine any of this – but this is one aspect that we can change so no family has to experience it the same way we have, and no murderer gets away with their crime.”

An ultrasound photo of Cassandra Kaake’s daughter-to-be Molly during her fifth month of pregnancy. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Durham)

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