AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) – It’s been two years since the disappearance of Aniah Blanchard and as we approach the anniversary of her death the Auburn community honors and remembers her. Now the family is dedicated to teaching free self-awareness and self-defense classes.
Aniah’s, stepfather and UFC Fighter, Walt Harris, knows that Aniah fought for her own life on her last days. On Saturday, Oct. 23 the Blanchard family hosted a self-awareness and self-defense class for the Auburn community, at Max Fitness in Auburn, Alabama.
Aniah Blanchard was last seen on Oct. 23 and was reported missing on Oct. 24 of 2019. As the second anniversary approaches, her family’s goal is educating women to have skills to protect themselves if a situation arises.
Walt said, “I’ll be honest, it’s hard to get up somedays, ya know we’re still dealing with it, day by day. It never gets easier. But if we can help somebody, I think that will give us a little bit of solace to get through it. “
The Blanchard family says that through their non-profit, Aniah’s Heart, they are continuing Aniah’s legacy. It is what keeps them going every day.
Anihas mother, Angela Harris said, “The reason why we even started Aniah’s Heart, is because I heard Aniah just say to me, ‘mom you can’t let this happen to anybody else,’ and I took that and said you’re right, I won’t.”
Angela Harris says, having the education to protect yourself can save your life. She says, “The really important thing to understand is that it can happen to you, and you can be a victim of a violent crime at anytime and anywhere.”
Women are the primary target for predators and are the most vulnerable in a parking lot. They say, heads up and phones down. You need to walk with confidence and look each person in the eye. Making eye contact with a predator can turn them away.
During the self-defense portion of the class, Walt brought up John and John, two former service men with The Veteran Disaster Relief Team (VET DRTI). VET DRTI aided the family during the search for Aniah. This group of Veteran volunteers have served their country and now serve their communities through Disaster Relief and Search and Recovery.
The hands on practice and training of how to get out of a head lock, and choke hold were just some of the skills women who attended learned. Having a plan is the most important thing, by combining self-awareness and self-defense you have an advantage.
Walt says he won’t stop and is dedicated to educating women the rest of his life, “I hate that it had to be under these circumstances. But if I can help one person save one life then it was worth it.”