SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Over the past few weeks we’ve introduced you to our four Remarkable Women nominees who are making a big difference all over KELOLAND. 

Friday morning we announced the local winner is Shari Kastein. Over the past 35 years, Kastein has touched tens of thousands of lives all over south Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and more, helping people in desperate situations find hope and safety. 

“Every minute of the day, 24 persons are victimized by crime, in an hour that’s 440 people,” Kastein said.

For 35 years, Sheri Kastein has dedicated her life to bringing an end to violence. 

“All I wanted to do was help these people that were just like me,” Kastein said. 

A life’s mission inspired by her own escape from an abusive marriage, followed by the kidnapping, rape and brutal abuse of her 15-month-old daughter.

“At that point I thought life was going to end. Then I realized there was so much more I could do,” Kastein said.

Her efforts to help other victims of domestic violence in Redfield, South Dakota inspired some of the first state-wide efforts to help victims of violent crimes. 

“When I was going through this 35 years ago, I remember my dad coming to talk to me from his office and he said please for the love of God don’t get into this, it’s dangerous…but I said, if not for me who, who’s going to do this, who’s going to be that voice, and my dad was like, I don’t care as long as its not you, but I said, its got to be somebody,” Kastein said.

Today she continues to be a voice for survivors, heading a statewide call center in Sioux Center, Iowa that reaches tens of thousands of people each year. 

“This is just five years old now, its just amazing the growth and impact its had, where would 35,000 people have gone, where would those calls have gone, had not one person stood up and said we can do this,” Kastein said.

But Sheri says she is still looking at what more she can do to empower more people to seek help. 
“One of my greatest accomplishments is feeling that life of freedom that I hadn’t had for so many years when I was afraid to go home at night,” Kastein said.

She wants to make sure everyone knows there are now many safe places to turn to for help and hope. 

“Let me use my experiences and resources to help you in any way,” Kastein said.

She is always selflessly working to help others, but now as our KELOLAND Remarkable Women nominee, Kastein will be taking a trip out to New York City to attend The Mel Robbins Show. She is among more than 100 women from across the country who could be named Nexstar Media Group’s Woman of the Year.