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03-13-13-walk-awhile.gifIt’s been said many times and in many different ways: “Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.” Many parents have said these exact words to their children. It’s easy to imagine their young minds wandering and suddenly an image of tiny feet inside of a big old pair of shoes comes to mind. They could be boots. They could be sneakers. They could be sandals or slippers. They could be oxfords or penny loafers. They could be cleats or fl ippers. Or they could be ... high-heels.

The Rape Crisis Volunteers of Cumberland County is hosting the third annual Walk Awhile in Her Shoes fundraiser event on March 22 in downtown Fayetteville. Walk Awhile is a part of the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes international project in which men are asked to wear high-heeled shoes to raise awareness of sexual violence in local communities. Yes, men. Yes, high-heels.

These handsome guys will strut their stuff down Hay Street beginning at the Market House and ending at the AIT building where a reception will be held. Refreshments will be available for participants, whether they walked or simply donate to the cause. Band-Aids will also be on scene for those brawny, brave men who showed those stilettos who’s boss. General registration is $20 and includes a T-shirt, admission for two to the reception and two drink tickets per person. Student registration (must have ID) costs $10 and includes a T-shirt and admission for one to the reception. Participants can register onsite at the Market House at 6 p.m. and the walk starts at 7 p.m.

Bill Cannon and his two sons, Tyler (20) and Trent (15), will participate in the walk. Cannon feels that it’s important to set a good example for his boys and get them involved in their community.

“By getting my sons involved it teaches them that it’s okay to humble yourself, put yourself out there, and give back to your community for a great cause,” Cannon said.

Sexual violence doesn’t stand out as a topic of discussion in most people’s minds. It isn’t pretty, so it’s sometimes diffi cult to raise awareness. The people at Walk a Mile in Her Shoes understand this and that’s why Walk Awhile works; because it’s fun. It isn’t uncomfortable (unless you’re a foot) and it makes a sensitive subject easier to talk about.

“A lot of people don’t want to see it,” Cannon stated. “They want to close their eyes. This fundraiser can help open the eyes of those that may be too afraid to acknowledge the existence of sexual violence, but in a fun way.”In 2012, 100 men showed up to give their support and raise awareness in the community by taking that valiant, yet glamorous, stroll down those historic cobble-stone streets. This year the RCVCC hopes to raise at least $25,000 to help support the growing demand for volunteer and financial resources at the Rape Crisis facility. It is reported that in the 2011-2012 Fiscal Year, at least 378 victims of sexual assault were provided services by the RCVCC in our community; the number of cases continues to climb.

“We need more men to go out and support things like this,” Cannon said. “These women need to know they’re not alone.”

Statistics show that one in four American women are victims of sexual assault; meaning it’s likely that we all know someone who has been affected. Doing your part to support these victims can be as simple as putting one fabulous foot in front of the other, just be careful not to break a heel.

If you have any questions, want more information or wish to sponsor the walk, contact Deanne Gerdes, executive director of the RCVCC at 485-7273 or by e-mail at gerdes.deanne@gmail.com.

Photo: Real men wear heels.

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