10 walk a while in her shoesRape Crisis of Cumberland County presents the 10th annual “Walk Awhile in Her Shoes” event Friday, March 13, at 7 p.m. at The Capitol Building on Hay Street in downtown Fayetteville.

 “This is the 10th year of our fundraising event, and the purpose is to bring awareness to sexual assault in our community,” said Deanne Gerdes, executive director of Rape Crisis of Cumberland County. 

“There will be men standing up against sexual assault, and we have lots of victims who will be out there witnessing it. That is huge for us.”

Rape Crisis of Cumberland County is an invaluable resource for victims of domestic violence. “Last year we had 672 victims of sexual assault in Cumberland County, and we provide services from a crisis hotline, responding to the emergency room, responding to law enforcement and going to court,” said Gerdes. “If the victim chooses not to report anything, we will support that decision as well.”

 Gerdes added the organization hosts support groups and provides individual counseling and lots of other resources. All of their services are free, and they are not contingent of this report. “A big reason why we are so confidential is because active duty soldiers who choose not to get services on Fort Bragg can come down here,” said Gerdes. “We don’t charge any insurance companies, to include Tricare, and we do that specifically to keep them 100% confidential so that they are comfortable and there is no paper trail.”

 Another important role that Rape Crisis of Cumberland County has is to assist with sexual assault cold cases. “We do cold cases, too, so we are part of the Fayetteville Police Department’s cold case unit,” said Gerdes. “We have an advocate that handles all of our backlog issues that we had in Cumberland County and we have an advocate that advocates for those victims as well.

 “We are part of the SAKI grant and we make the notifications to the victim about the status of their rape kit,” said Gerdes. “It could be tested, some of them were disposed of years ago, there may be a DNA match. … It just depends what that rape kit looks like.”

Walk Awhile in Her Shoes is a couple of blocks and will begin at The Capitol Building and end at Segra Stadium. Men will wear red, high-heeled shoes as they walk. It’s a light-hearted way to make a positive impact for a serious cause.

Participants can rent shoes from Rape Crisis, but they are not required to participate. “We actually do have a high heel shoe up to size 15 for men to wear, but we also have men who support the event and don’t wear the high heels, and we are fine with that,” said Gerdes. “God bless our military with their bad knees and their bad backs and someone like that who is uncomfortable. We appreciate their efforts of walking in the event,” said Gerdes.

 Gerdes recommends preregistering to make sure they have the man’s shoe size on hand. “We sure would like to see Bill Bowman in some red high heels on this 10th Anniversary fundraiser,” said Gerdes.

 Registration begins at 6 p.m. The cost is $25. For more information call 910-485-7273.

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