The following stories were published in The Courier on March 6 and 30, respectively. I encourage you all to participate and support these events, as well as other efforts that raise awareness of rape, sexual assault and gender violence.
As a shoe nut, I can't think of a better event.
Women are willing to suffer through so much for the sake of style and beauty, including wearing high-heeled shoes that look great but are not exactly comfortable. If only men could experience what it's like to have their toes crammed into the narrow end of a pump, while gravity pushes the toes in a little tighter with each stride on a 4-inch heel. Now, they can.
On April 25, men clad in red high-heeled shoes will parade through downtown Findlay as a fundraiser for Open Arms Domestic Violence and Rape Crisis Services.
The event, of course, is not intended to raise awareness of women's shoe discomfort, but of sexual assault and domestic violence, which continues to thrive in the Findlay area. It is part of Walk A Mile In Her Shoes, an international men's march to stop sexual assault and gender violence.
Walk A Mile In Her Shoes was founded in 2001 with the idea that men must be part of the solution to end sexualized violence. Walks have been held in growing numbers around the country each year since. So far, 84 walks have been scheduled in 2009, including Findlay's.
To participate in the Findlay walk, men will pledge to walk a one-mile route, starting at Dorney Plaza and looping around downtown Findlay while wearing specially-designed "men's" 4-inch red high-heeled shoes. Each participant will contribute a $20 registration fee and will also collect pledges, with all proceeds going to Open Arms.
Open Arms will order numerous pairs of specially designed "men's" red, high-heeled shoes for participants to wear. The shoes, provided through the Walk A Mile In Her Shoes organization, come in men's sizes 12-17.
Men who raise $200 or more in pledges will have their registration fee waived. The registration fee is $10 for students and for men who can supply their own shoes.
Registration will begin at 10 a.m., with an opening ceremony at 11:30 a.m. and the walk starting at noon. Awards will be presented at 1 p.m., and will include prizes such as "best legs" and "best strut."
Organizers plan to make the event a family-oriented affair and hope men will walk with their sons while female family members cheer them on. Companies, schools and organizations are also encouraged to enter teams.
While it will be primarily a men's event, women may also register and walk for pledges.
Vendors will sell refreshments along the route, and fun items such as flip-flops will also be available for sale for walkers who just don't think they can walk the entire route in heels. Family-oriented activities are also planned throughout the day.
The march will replace Open Arms' birdhouse auction as the agency's sole fundraiser for the year. A goal has not yet been determined.
Open Arms provides programs, services and resources to those affected by domestic violence and sexual assault and also provides a safe environment for victims in crisis situations.
Domestic violence affects one in four women nationwide. Last year, Open Arms fielded 574 calls to its crisis hotline. Shelter was provided to 85 adults and children and the rape crisis program served 487 individuals through emergency room visits, individual support, crisis calls and prevention presentations.
BLUFFTON — The "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" event, being hosted by Bluffton University's social work department, will be held today on the university's campus.
Men will walk one mile in high heeled shoes to protest rape, sexual assault and gender violence. The march will begin at 6 p.m., with registration starting at 5 p.m. at the Bluftton University Track and Football Stadium. Walk-in registrations are welcome.
Men will be encouraged, but not required, to walk in women's shoes. Participants will be asked to donate $10 per team member. High heels in all sizes will be available to those who don't have there won.
Proceeds from the event will benefit Crossroads Crisis Center's violence prevention efforts and rape crisis services in northwest Ohio. The center, located in Lima, provides safe and confidential emergency shelters, along with several advocacy programs for women and children. The center can be reached by calling 419-228-4357.