337405489 769856624762509 4443576833324362330 nCalling all men in the Fayetteville and Cumberland County area! Now is the time to give back, raise awareness, and have a whole lot of fun doing it.

Walk Awhile is back for its 14th year in downtown Fayetteville on March 22nd at 6 p.m. Line-up will start at Capital Encore Academy, located at 126 Hay Street and participants will walk from Capital to the steps of Segra Stadium. For those unfamiliar with Walk Awhile, it’s an event presented by the Phoenix Center of Fayetteville to bring awareness to domestic and sexual violence. This is a downsized and localized version of Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, an international awareness event.

Deanne Gerdes, Executive Director said, “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is an international event. When we brought it to Fayetteville 14 years ago, we changed it to Walk Awhile in Her Shoes. I was not sure I could convince my closest friends to walk an entire mile! We wanted an event for a family to be involved in, or coworkers to participate together in the event. We wanted conversations about violence against women to happen, and of course to raise money for victims we serve …There is an old saying: ‘You can't understand another person's experience until you've walked a mile in their shoes.’ To get people listening, learning, and talking, we have asked men to do just that. We have 200 pairs of red high heel shoes that men can throw on walk and walk a few blocks down Hay Street and show that they take a stand against violence.” Gerdes has been with the Phoenix Center for almost 15 years (the anniversary is next month!) and has played an integral part in the longevity and success of the event.

Fourth Friday will set the perfect stage to bring visibility to often underreported issues for women. While awareness of domestic and sexual violence is important every day of the year, the coinciding of Women’s History Month and Fourth Friday increases the visibility of this event tenfold.

Those interested in registering for the event can do so up until the event starts by calling the office at 910-485-7273. Those who register early can come by the office at 517 Ramsey Street and try on a pair of heels before the big day.

As any veteran heel wearer will advise, “Make sure they are comfortable.”

This event not only brings awareness but also shows victims that their community supports them.
“It’s important to show victims that we support them. Although you probably won’t know who they are, they will be among the walkers, volunteers, and spectators; you may not see them, but they will see you, and that’s the most important part of this walk,” said Gerdes of the importance of the event.

The Phoenix Center is an important part of our community. Gerdes explained what their role in Fayetteville is.

“The Phoenix Center provides services to victims of domestic and sexual violence. We offer a 24-hour crisis line, you can file for a domestic violence protective order in our office, and we advocate in the emergency room and in the courthouse for victims. We have support groups and we refer to mental health professionals. We work hard. We hear the worst that happens to people. Especially to women, and we advocate the best we can and the next day to do it all over again. So come out Friday, share a few laughs, thank the advocates for all their hard work, and take a stand with us.”

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