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High-heeled walkers unite for awareness campaign
Haven walk pic
Walk A Mile In Her Shoes, an event that has men running in high heels in an effort to raise awareness and funds for the Haven Women's Crisis Center, will be held April 16 in downtown Modesto. - photo by Journal file photo

A parade of red-heeled men and boys will soon be marching through downtown Modesto as the Haven Women’s Center of Stanislaus County hosts their third Walk A Mile In Her Shoes event April 16.

Walk A Mile In Her Shoes is an awareness and fundraising campaign to end domestic violence and sexual assault. It’s based on the adage that a person can’t really understand another individual’s experience until they “walk a mile” in their shoes. The participants of the walk are asked to put the adage into practice by walking a mile in high heel shoes.

Walk A Mile In Her Shoes has grown into an international campaign to stop sexual assault and gender violence. It was started in 2001 by walk founder Frank Baird.

"Violence against women does not just affect women," Baird writes on the Walk A Mile In Her Shoes website. "Men are hurt and angered when women they care about are raped. Men are hurt and angered when they try to develop relationships with women in an atmosphere of fear and mistrust and blame. And the same violence that targets women also targets men because rape isn't about sex, it’s about power, control and violence."

The event isn’t just about walking the walk, it’s also about talking the talk, said Haven Board Member Wanda Bonnell.

“As an awareness campaign this has been a very effective event because it’s spreading the message that our community has a resource to help in Haven,” Bonnell said. “It also calls attention to sexual assaults and domestic violence in our community and brings men into the conversation. We’ve seen an increase in the number of walkers each year and that means more people in our community are learning about the resources Haven offers.”

Last year’s event had more than 200 participants and generated funds that served more than 2,200 individuals affected by domestic violence and sexual assault in the community. The Haven Women’s Center of Stanislaus County has offices in Turlock and Modesto and operates an emergency shelter in Modesto.

Prior to the walk the participants will get a lesson on the finer points of walking in heels.

“We have a trainer that will go over some stretches and the best way to place their feet,” said Bonnell. “The men are not familiar with what it takes to walk in heels, but she helps them manage.”

After the race awards will be given out for various categories, including most funds raised, best costume, youngest walker, and best strut. Additionally, any team or sponsor that reaches the $5,000 mark will be given a page in the 2017 Walk A Mile In Her Shoes calendar.

The event is set for April 16 at the Gallo Center for the Arts at 1000 I Street in Modesto. Check-in opens at 9 a.m. and the one-mile walk starts at 10:30 a.m. The cost is $40 per adult; $30 per adult for teams of five or more; $20 for students with valid identification. Those who don’t preregister can still sign up the day of the event. The cost will be $50 per adult; $30 per adult in a team of five or more; and $20 for students. Cash, credit cards and checks are accepted.

The red high heels will be provided by Haven. They have sizes ranging from 8.5 to 16.

Those wanting to participate in the walk or donate can do so by going to