If you’ve ever walked in two-inch stilettos along a busy brick sidewalk on a Friday night, you are a brave person. If you are a man wearing stilettos walking for blocks downtown, that takes bravery to a whole new level. For a large group of brave men, that its exactly what they will be doing March 23 in support of Walk Awhile In Her Shoes.

The second annual Walk Awhile In Her Shoes event, hosted by the Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County, brings attention to sexual assault victims and raises money for the organization.

Last year, approximately 100 men walked, raising $15,000 for RCVCC from company sponsors, individual walkers and non-walking supporters. The sponsors this year are Lafayette Business Machines, Shaw Construction Co., Michael Boose Law Firm, Valley Auto World, Fayetteville Police Department, Cape Fear Valley Health System, Dr. Mendes and Bill’s Mobile Crane Service.

On-site registration begins at the Market House in downtown Fayetteville at 6 p.m. and the walk starts at 7 p.m., leaving from the Market House, ending at the AIT building.

“It’s a fun, funny event that’s all profi t for a local charity,” Michael Boose, event walker and volunteer said. “That’s the most compelling part to me; helping people I know — maybe not by name, but extended family of friends or people my daughters went to school with.”

Last year, his oldest daughter drove down from East Carolina University for the event because she couldn’t believe her dad would really walk in heels. To her surprise he even let her paint his toenails to match his pumps.

“When you see this burly man willing to put on high heels for the cause, you don’t really have an alternative,” Boose said. “All these men scream testosterone.”

Like most men, Boose tried to “manly up” his heels by wearing a leather vest but he doubts anyone noticed.

“Before the event, the men dread it. Then they put on their heels and start getting attention from the viewers and steady their steps. Then they start to strut and really enjoy themselves,” Deanne Gerdes, RCVCC executive director said. “People enjoy the camaraderie and the lively, jovial attention.”

“It’s a great time to poke fun, not take yourself so seriously and people have really enjoyed it,” Boose said.

Clients of Boose told him a picture of him from last year’s event is hanging on their refrigerator so when people asked they could point at him and say “Oh, see him? That’s my lawyer.”

Although RCVCC provides heels for the walkers, Boose has already begun shopping for his own pair.

“I’m looking for a pair that isn’t too high; something I can actually walk in. If I wore two-inch stilettos, I’d be splattered all over the pavement,” Boose said. 

“I appreciate women being able to walk in heels, with their calves stretched, pretending to be comfortable and looking suave while doing it. I just try to go slow and steady to finish the walk.”

After the walk, men share war stories of that treacherous, toe-pinching walk and enjoy refreshments while awards are given out to those brave enough to take a stand in red stilettos. Band-Aids will be provided by RCVCC for those tired feet.

“It’s difficult to raise money for victims when it’s rape because no one wants to talk about it, but this is a fun way to bring attention (to the cause) and involve men to take a stand against sexual assault.” Gerdes said.03-14-12-walking-in-heels.jpg

More than 400 victims received services from RCVCC last year. The RCVCC provides a 24-hour crisis hotline, 24-hour emergency room responders, counseling, support groups, courtroom advocacy and community awareness.

“One in four women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, that’s why we are here — to help your neighbor, sister, or grandmother through the traumatic time,” Gerdes said.

Photo: Eddie Bartlett, Michael Boose, Kenny Hardin, Gene Howell and Cal Coyer show off their shoes at the 2011 event. 

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