Here’s a statistic that Hoosiers can’t be proud of: Indiana is rated Number 2 nationally for sexual assault on females in ninth to 12th grades.
As a way of helping to drive down that statistic, the Women’s Bureau is holding its seventh annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® fundraiser on Sept. 20.
Last year, the event boasted about 500 walkers; this year the goal is to get 600-700 participants, said Kathleen Alter, executive director of The Women’s Bureau Inc.
“The funds will be used to support the REACT (Respond, Empower, Advocate, Collaborate, and Treat) Rape Awareness program at the Women’s Bureau,” said Alter. “All of the counseling, advocacy and education at the schools we do in the REACT program is for free, and this fundraiser allows us to keep the services free to individuals who need it.
“Also, something we would like to emphasize this year is women are welcome to walk and can wear high heels or flats, whatever works best for them. We have a lot of heels, but the larger sizes that would fit men. Most of the women will have to bring their own heels.
“In addition, we are hoping to create competition between companies; for example the police stations, fire stations, college sports teams, hospitals, and so on.
“Food trucks will be at the event so after the race, people can stay and have lunch.” There will be several categories for winning: first person to finish, most money raised, largest team, best-dressed team and most creative costume.
Jerry Vandeever and Lee Patterson are two of the most avid male supporters of the fundraiser.
“I feel the event supports an incredibly important mission, which is to empower ladies in our area in any way possible,” said Patterson. “As a man who personally knows ladies who have been victimized or marginalized in one way or another, I feel a personal responsibility to do what I can to help.” Vandeever concurred.
“This event will give me a chance to walk with real men in support of real women to give them a chance to heal,” said Vandeever.
“Since becoming involved, the rest of the men in my family have picked up on it, and we include our newest grandson in the event, too.
“Men, if you can’t participate, let your wife, girlfriend or other women in your life know that you are a real man and will be there for them without abuse or sexual atrocities. Also, if you’d like to come but fear your feet won’t fit in the shoes, just remember, ‘You don’t need to put your feet in the red shoes, just your heart.’”
According to Kathleen Alter, Executive Director of the Women’s Bureau, everyone has a role in ending sexual assault. Some easy things to do:
Ask for consent, don’t joke about rape, spread awareness, be informed, listen, speak up and support.
Who: The Women’s Bureau
What: The seventh annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® fundraiser
Where: Headwaters Park West
When: Sept. 20, 2014 – Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the walk begins at 10 a.m. Register by calling (260) 424-7977 or by registering online at www.womensbureau.org
Why: To raise community awareness and funds for REACT Rape Awareness Program at the Women’s Bureau
More info at the national level: www.walkamileinhershoes.org/