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Dean and Karen Liley Discuss the Heart of the Matter

We’re thrilled to celebrate the 15th Annual Heart of the Matter Golf Tournament this August. We had the privilege of sitting down with Dean and Karen Liley, the founders of this special event. When their daughter was sexually assaulted in college in 2001, the Liley’s felt lost. “When it happened, we didn’t know where to turn to or where to go,” says Dean. When they came across The Blue Bench, their lives were completely changed. The Blue Bench’s hotline equipped them with education on options, resources, and other helpful services. The support they received inspired the Liley family to give back through the creation of the Heart of the Matter Golf Tournament, a tradition that we continue to cherish each year.

As secondary survivors, it was vital for Dean and Karen to receive the support they needed. The Liley’s explain that a crucial piece in their own path to healing had been sharing their story in order to help others. What began as informative letters to other families turned into inviting The Blue Bench to come to speak with other large organizations that they were a part of. Bringing this prevention to others became a positive outcome for the Liley’s. “It was very healing and supportive to know that we could take steps to help right away,” says Karen. This healing revelation inspired the Liley’s to bring the community together through Heart of the Matter, knowing that it wouldn’t be just any golf tournament. For example, Dean refers to the eye opening statistics that are placed at each hole on the course. “That alone not only changes the conversation but changes people’s thoughts and attitudes towards what sexual violence does to people,” he says.

Given that this is the 15th year of Heart of the Matter, we had to know what Dean and Karen’s favorite memories of the tournament had been over the years! Dean said that one of his favorite memories had been watching individuals acknowledge the statistics at every hole. Karen’s favorite memory is bringing people together to share her story and this important topic with others. “I love the memory of our family being involved and seeing how many people surrounded our daughter with support,” Karen recalls. “Seeing our grandkids out on the golf carts, having a good time… Just seeing that and knowing how far [our daughter] has come is just fun.”

Dean also recalls how close folks have made it to getting a hole in one and winning a free car--- always exciting to see!

Dean and Karen Liley would recommend The Blue Bench’s services to any survivor in need of support. “[The Blue Bench] has a wide continuum of services,” Says Dean. “This is a worthy organization that is out there to really speak to families in coping and healing.”

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