Women will have a chance to share their stories, make new friends and listen to guest speakers at the second annual Living Our Legacy event from March 2 to 4 in Rapid City. 

The event is being organized by the Buffalo Gals, an initiative of local nonprofit The FUSION Foundation, and will take place at Rushmore Plaza Holiday Inn. Last year around 280 women attended.

March 8 is International Women's Day, but the event was scheduled for March 2 to 4 to signify women “marching forth," said Annie “Yakuzan” (Bachand) Loyd, founder of The FUSION Foundation and organizer of Living Our Legacy.

“When women share their stories, it brings forward our own stories,” Loyd said. “It gives voice and language to our stories. It opens up our hearts and minds and validates our soul’s desire for a more peaceful community to live in.”

The event starts on March 2 with an appreciation dinner and awards ceremony. Awards will be given for three different themes. Loyd described the first theme as “all under one roof,” which is about recognizing people in the community who are inclusive and reaching out across unperceived and perceived barriers.

The second theme is “voice for change,” and the third is “intentional connections."

All of these ideas are about building a healthier community, a healthier dialogue and modeling ways of being in the community that builds trust and relationships, Loyd said.

On the second day of the event there will be guest speakers, music, food, vendors, and a chance for women to network.

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Three speakers will give presentations, which will be followed by 45 minutes of roundtable discussion among participants. A facilitator at each table will suggest topics to discuss and keep the conversations flowing.

“We asked speakers to speak about a significant event in their life and what it’s like in their life,” Loyd said.

Among the speakers scheduled to give presentations are: Amanda Stadel, of Phoenix, who will talk about human trafficking; Cathy Bock, of the Rapid City Police Department; and Karen Red Star, from the Ogala Sioux Tribe.

Other speakers will discuss topics such as health, supporting other women, and bringing about changes in the community.

There will be time on March 4 to continue conversations that were sparked the previous day. “We want to create a space and environment to continue these conversations,” Loyd said. “We encourage the women at the conference to find the things they can focus on and to illuminate solutions they feel are working within their community.”

Local businesses and individuals have sponsored the event, but they are also looking for 200 women to each donate $100.

“It’s a powerful message when women realize they have the power to impact the lives of other women with their checkbooks,” Loyd said.

Loyd, who is speaking on the first day of the event, said she hopes attendees will focus on what they have in common, rather than their differences.  “How are you feeding your soul?" she said. "The souls closest to you, and how are we feeding the soul of our community?”

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