One in six women is a survivor of sexual assault.
In nine days, the community will get a chance to slip on red high heels and participate in the annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes," an event that raises money to change that statistic and help victims.
For the fifth year the Women's Bureau will have fundraiser at Headwaters Park West. Louise Jackson, Chief Executive Officer of the Women's Bureau, said over the past four years the event has grossed $452,000.
“This year we are anticipating grossing $119,000, including in-kind (donations),” Jackson said.
This is the biggest fundraising event for the Women's Bureau each year. The nonprofit agency advocates for the survivors of sexual assault and works to prevent further incidents through empowerment, education and advocacy. All money raised goes to their rape awareness program, REACT, which is actually four programs that include community outreach, education, and defense programs, as well as free clinical counseling for victims of assault, their family and friends.
The basic premise is this: Men get to walk a mile in red high heels. Something different this year, Jackson said, is a big push for teams to participate. A team is 10 or more individuals who sign up; the cost is $30 for each team member to register. Prizes will be awarded for the best-dressed team, as well as for best-dressed male and female. For individuals who wish register it is a $35 registration fee.
There will be light refreshments available before and after the walk, including cupcakes decorated with red stiletto shoes.
In honor of the fifth year, Dr. Mike and Liz Schatzlein, former CEO of Dupont Hospital and the original co-chairs, are coming from Nashville to be here. Cindy Henry is the chairwoman this year, and two survivors of sexual assault will read a mayoral proclamation.
“I think this is a fabulous cause. Every day, women are victims of violence; it was a no- brainer for me to volunteer my time as chairwoman,” Cindy Henry said. “I have watched (Mayor) Tom (Henry) walk in red high heels the past few years. I think the event is a real eye-opener.”
There will be a clothesline project on display. MaryClare Akers, Director of REACT, a rape awareness program, said survivors of sexual assault are designing T-shirts that will be hung on clotheslines around the event. The art project is a good way for them to share their feelings with the public.
The evening before the walk, Federal Express will be sponsoring food for a cookout at Headwaters Park West, where people can register or pick up their T-shirts and shoes. The major sponsor this year is Verizon, while Sweetwater Sound and Fort Wayne Metals have sponsored all five years.
“There will be hundreds and hundreds of red shoes for the men,” Akers said.
"This is not a warm, fuzzy topic, but this event brings awareness to the community in a fun way...we do stress the seriousness of sexual assault,” Jackson said. “Our statement is putting our foot down to stop sexual assault."
Jackson said they encourage survivors of sexual assault just to come out and enjoy the occasion. There will be cutouts of red shoes and banners placed downtown this week to raise awareness of the event.
People can register online up to midnight on Sept. 20. People can then register the day of the event or drop by the Women's Bureau, 2417 Fairfield Ave., to register.