Walk a Mile Benefit Planned for Third Thursday05:13PM / Monday, September 17, 2012
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Hundreds of men will step off the curb at 6 p.m. this Third Thursday, Sept. 20, to walk a one-mile downtown loop in women's shoes.
The second annual "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" is designed to raise awareness about gender-based violence while raising funds for the Elizabeth Freeman Center, the county's provider of services for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
In 2011, the Elizabeth Freeman Center served almost 5,000 individuals: almost 1,000 in North County, more than 1,000 in South County and 2,500 in Central Berkshire.
Walkers are each asked, but not required, to raise a minimum of $55 by securing donations from their friends, families, and colleagues to sponsor their walk. The $55 in donations entitle the walker to an event T-shirt and a pair of shoes. Men can opt to wear a pair of their own shoes, as long as they decorate them with provided materials.
"The goal is not to torture men's feet by making them wear stiletto heals, it's the symbolic importance of understanding what it feels like to be an abuse survivor," said event organizer Ann Miller.
Participants can march as individuals, but are also encouraged to form teams of family members, friends, co-workers, and/or colleagues from other organizations to which they belong (sports teams, civic groups, neighborhood associations).
Police Chief Michael Wynn and Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski have announced the "Finest vs. the Bravest Challenge." Team Mike will represent Berkshire County's law enforcement community and Team Bob will represent the fire safety community. According to Wynn, each team will be seeking "bragging rights" in three categories: highest number of walkers, highest number of donors/sponsors, and highest total number of dollars raised.
State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, and members of the sheriff's department are also among those committed to "taking a stand and walking the walk."
The Walk a Mile in Her Shoes: The International Men's March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault, and Gender Violence is marking its 11th year.
Freeman Center President Susan Birns said the event is a role-reversal from the Take Back The Night marches in which women marched and men were asked to show their support. Walk a Mile is an opportunity for men to take to the streets and women are encouraged to line North Street to cheer them on.
More than 100 men walked last year, netting more than $14,000. Flavours of Malaysia's Chin Lee raised the most funds.
"Last year was fantastic, but we hope to see all these numbers rise significantly this year," said event organizer Marie Paradise.
Registration forms will be available at the Popcorn Wagon at North and East streets from 5:30 to 6 on Thursday; they can also be picked up at the Freeman Center, 43 Francis Ave., or at Bagels Too, 166 North St. Information: email@example.com or 413-499-2425.
Sponsors include Bayer MaterialScience; Berkshire Money Management Inc.; Greylock Federal Credit Union; Hill–Engineers, Architects, Planners Inc.; Onyx Specialty Papers Inc.; Pittsfield Chapter of UNCO National; and W. J. Blueprint & Digital Graphics.