9th annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes raises funds and awareness
The ninth annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes fundraiser could not have come at better time.
The fundraiser, held on Sept. 18 at Olympic Plaza, is a lighthearted way to raise awareness around the dark issue of domestic violence and raise funds for the YWCA in the process.
This year, over 240 men strapped on a pair of colourful and sparkly stiletto heels and walked two laps around the Olympic Plaza, raising $162,000 in the process.
The plaza was filled with a vibrant energy and among the walkers were several local celebrities, radio personalities, and Calgary police officers and firefighters.
Over the past eight years, this event has helped the YWCA – which enables women to find safe and healthy futures through shelters, counseling and employment support – raise more than $2 million.
"We know that there are, sadly, tens of thousands of families in Calgary that are experiencing unhealthy and unsafe relationships in their homes," says Elsbeth Mehrer, a director at the YWCA.
This event allows men to take a stand and say domestic violence is not acceptable in our community.
Jonathan Denis, the solicitor general and minister of justice, attended the event.
"One thing that these women have in common is that none of them asked to be put in that situation," says Denis. "We have to support these women and we have to support the children that they have."
Denis stressed the importance of the YWCA in the community and believes it does an exemplary job.
Last year, 1,150 women and 340 children stayed in the shelter.
Denis' goal is to have no more calls made to emergency services about a child in danger or woman who has suffered at the hands of violence.
"Every step that we take here today is a step forward towards seeing a city and province without domestic violence," he says.
Domestic abuse has been increasingly prevalent in the media recently. A few days prior to the high heels event, Susan Rae Elko was found stabbed to death in her Calgary condo on Sept. 14. Her boyfriend has been charged with second-degree murder. In addition, several allegations of domestic violence have surfaced among NFL players, which is bringing this issue into the limelight.
YWCA director Mehrer added: "Anytime domestic violence is in the news we have more calls to our crisis line and we hear from more women who start to ask themselves those important questions about whether or not they are safe, and whether or not they could find a way to be different in their relationship moving forward.
"I think that the more we talk about this issue the better. We've had too many experiences of domestic violence in our city. One is too many."
- By ANDREA MIHALIK