Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

April 30, 2012

Men ‘Walk A Mile’ for women’s cause

TAHLEQUAH — To the casual onlooker, the parade of men wobbling down Muskogee Avenue Saturday morning in high -heeled shoes may have appeared outrageous.

In reality, those men risked injury and pain to show support for Help-In-Crisis in the second annual Walk A Mile In Her Shoes awareness event Saturday.

The fundraiser garnered many volunteers, both walkers and those helping behind the scenes, as well as spectators in a fun event that brought people from various backgrounds together in support of the serious matter of preventing domestic violence.

HIC Executive Director Deana Franke, director of HIC, was elated to have such a large turnout.

“This is about standing up and saying we don’t want that kind of violent behavior in our community,” said Franke.

Many volunteers helped the walkers prepare for their mile hike and to help ease their pain afterward.

HIC Volunteer Coordinator Jana Green said this year’s event gained popularity.

 “We are busier this year than last year,” said Green. “And there is so much more interest and people volunteering.”

According to Green, last year there were about 200 participants, and this year, the number is 350.

“The donations go into our general fund, and a lot of it will go to help run our local women’s shelter,” said Green.

The shoes came in many sizes, styles and heel height. Green said that all the larger sizes are ordered for men and that the smaller sizes are all donations gathered by volunteers.

“This (event) brings the community together,” said Green. “It shows that the men in our community are against rape, sexual assault and violence in general. I’m so proud of our community in supporting this cause.”

Some of the high-heeled walkers were first-timers, including Rev. James Graham of First United Methodist Church.

“I feel better about the walk now that I have a pair of semi-sensible shoes,” said Graham.

Graham credits his participation to several women in his congregation who had asked him.

In his three-inch heels, Graham said, with a smile on his face, he thought everything would hurt after a mile of walking.

“But, no pain, no gain,” said Graham.

Another first-timer was Blake Turner who was walking for The Twig restaurant group. He said he’d be dressed as Twiggy the Bear as well as wearing stilettos. He said he knew he would make it through the mile trek.

For many of the first-timers, the women in their lives influenced their decision to walk in heels.

Teacher Lance Jeanes said that this was his first time to participate. He was asked by the women he works with at Greenwood Elementary.

“The heels are a little wobbly,” Jeanes said, as he tried them out for the first time.

Jeanes said his game plan was to go slow and steady.

There were several heel-clad milers who were participating for the second time, including Dr. Tom McConnell.

“I’ve been involved with Help-In-Crisis for about 15 years,” said McConnell.

The lessons McConnell learned from last year’s experience was that he was not going to wear big heels.

“They are deadly,” he said. “My game plan is not to be first. [I’m going to] just hang in there, finish the walk and show my support.”

Coach Dewayne Hammer of Sequoyah High School, said this was his second time to walk the mile. He brought his team with him this year.

“I hope to make it further than last year,” Hammer said. “And no pole dancing.”

Hammer said that last year he decided to do a little pole dancing in front of Sam and Ella’s, and twisted his ankle.

“I’m here to support the ladies,” Hammer said. “I have three daughters of my own, and I couldn’t bear it if something violent happened to them. People forget that we all have sisters, mothers and daughters. Everyone has a momma, so this is something we can do for the women in our lives.”

Brad Eubanks dealt with his shoes, which were a little too big, in a unique fashion.

“Last year I had a tighter shoe than this year,” Eubanks said while his ankles and feet were being taped. “This year’s pair are a little big so I’m getting ready.”

Eubanks’ game plan was to try not to walk on the bricked sidewalks. “The heels hit the cracks.”

“I’m a pro wrestler,” Eubanks said. “And this is harder than wrestling.”

Some of the volunteers helped prepare the walkers for their high-heeled excursion by taping up ankles to prevent injuries.

NSU Wellness Initiative Director Winona Johnson and her students helped in the care of the men, before and after the trek, for the second year at the event.

“We had some injuries last year,” said Johnson. “I try to encourage the men, especially if it’s their first time, to tape up as a safety measure. Even women wearing high heels injure themselves.”

Johnson said they would be at the blister station after the journey.

By the end of the mile, Chuck Bread said that he’d broken a shoe, but for a good cause. This was Bread’s second year to participate.

“Last year, I went for style,  and this year for comfort,” he said. “Either way, it didn’t help [the pain].”

After the walk, first time high-heel miler Matt Richardson said he was sore. But with little hesitation he added if asked, he do it again next year.

First-time finisher Bilal Chaudhry, with the Xpress Stop group, also learned a little more about what women experience by wearing high heels.

“It was very, very, very painful,” said Chaudhry. “We appreciate what women are doing. We’ll do this again next year.”

Awards were given in several categories. Dr. Steve Ullom received a red shoe trophy as the individual who brought in the most money. The First United Methodist Church won the group award for the most walkers, as well as the most money raised by a group.

Throughout the morning everyone had a good time, painful feet and all. Men showed off and posed in their heels, laughing and waving all the while. Spectators cheered them on in their determination to Walk A Mile In Her Shoes. And Help-In-Crisis received much-needed donations and sincere thanks in the annual event that brought family, friends and community together in their support to stop domestic violence.

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