Police Chief Michael Wynn had a friendly bet with Fire Chief Robert Czwinski on who could raise the most money. See more photos here.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The second annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes men's march raised more than $20,000 Thursday for the Elizabeth Freeman Center.
The march included hundreds of men trekking down North Street at the start of the September Third Thursday event adorned in their favorite pair of high heels.
Businesses sponsored the event and the walkers all had buckets collecting money. Before the buckets were even fully counted, organizers raised a net profit of more than $20,000, which is an increase from $14,000 at last year's rainy walk.
"It's an international men's march to stop rape and gender violence," Freeman Center Executive Director Janis Broderick said on Thursday. "Violence is huge and I don't think people know how big it is."
Broderick said that one in three women are beaten, raped or stalked with a high percentage of that in rural areas like Berkshire County. The county has 37 percent more restraining orders than the state average. Despite those numbers, the Freeman Center, which provides counseling, intervention, and referrals for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, has seen state funding decrease by $40,000 since 2009.
Last year, the center organized the first walk as a fundraiser to help boost its programs. Broderick said the choice was made to join the national march because it is fun and "substantive."
"You don't usually have fun in our business," she said, adding that not only does the walk raise money but also makes a "public demonstration" by taking a stand against violence.
Not only did many local businesses join in the walk but also sports teams from both city high schools. Additionally, the district attorney's office and the Police and Fire departments joined.
Police Chief Michael Wynn and Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski made friendly bets on who could raise the most money, convince the most staffers to join and get the most contributors.
"The bragging rights go to the PPD," Wynn proclaimed after comparing totals.
The police raised more than $1,000 and had multiple officers from across the county walk whereas Czerwinski couldn't convince other firefighters to join and raised only $700.
Overall, there were double the amount of walkers in this year's walk than last year, Broderick said.
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