By MARY RAINWATER
Over 30 men embraced their feminine side to take a stand in the fight against domestic violence Saturday — taking a one-mile walk in woman’s high heels during the annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event.
The walk, benefiting the Crisis Center of Anderson and Cherokee Counties, took place in south Palestine, with men walking along Loop 256 from Palestine Regional Medical Center to the Palestine Mall.
The group, escorted by law enforcement vehicles, was cheered on by families, friends and even passing vehicles, who honked their horns to show support for the walkers.
The event was a family affair for many of the participants, who were escorted by their wives and children — some of the young boys even wearing heels for the cause.
Anderson County Precinct 1 Commissioner Greg Chapin was one of those men, walking with his son and leaning on his wife as he crossed the finish line.
“It was rewarding for me because of what it stands for,” Chapin said. “I am just so glad to be a part of this.”
Chapin reported that he felt the pain immediately after beginning his trek in red wedges. That pain — and a resulting blister — earned him the “Most Painful Walk” trophy.
Other special awards given included: “Best Blinged Shoe,” London McGee; “Best Overall Look,” Jeffrey Powell; “Most Money Raised,” Doug Lowe and Team DA, raised over $3,000; and the “100-yard Dash for Cash,” Brandon Greene, who donated his $100 prize back to the Crisis Center.
Elkhart Mayor Raymond Dunlap, who participated in the walk, said his white heels “blew out” not too long after the event began. But he continued to walk anyway — all the way to the finish line.
“It hurt, but was a lot of fun,” he said. “It is just a good thing to do — to help battered women.
“I was glad to see so many of our elected officials participate,” he added. “It was good.”
According to Crisis Center Program Director Roger Pharr, over $7,000 was raised during the Anderson County Walk A Mile event, which benefits victim services offered by the Crisis Center.
“It was a perfect day and we got a lot of support,” he said. “The walkers certainly appreciated the cheers and whistles from the crowd and were encouraged by the honks from passing cars.
“I appreciate all the support we received from the community and our sponsors and I look forward to doing it again next year.”
Saturday’s walk was part of Walk A Mile In Her Shoes International, which links men’s walks around the globe together for the effort to stop family violence and sexual assault.
“High heels were not made for men’s feet,” Pharr said last week. “But it’s important to us to publicly show that we don’t take the women in our community lightly. We want them to understand that we support them.
“More important, the walk is about men broadcasting to other men that violence against women isn’t going to be tolerated in our community,” he continued. “We’re letting our fishing buddies, poker buddies, and coworkers know that if they are abusing their spouses or girlfriends, we’re not going to keep quiet about it.”
Walk A Mile in Her Shoes 2013 was sponsored by Palestine Regional Medical Center, MKS Oilfield, Trimble & Company, ETMC-Jacksonville, Damsel in Defense, Austin Bank, Jeremy Harmel State Farm Insurance, Stackin Bills, Heart-to-Heart Hospice, Jacksonville Wal-Mart No. 180, Family First, Vance Royon Farmers Insurance, Snaps Photography, Keep It Rockin’, Bobby’s Tire, Cherokee County Electric Co-Op and Southside Bank.
Special thanks to Aaahhhhsome Salon & Spa who was on hand at the Palestine Mall to provide free foot massages to the men in heels.
Mary Rainwater may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com