A mile in her shoes

Published 9:59 am Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Of all the new sights that will be featured during this weekend’s 2015 Summer in the City Festival, perhaps none will turn as many heads as the parade of men marching in high heels through downtown Saturday morning.

Domestic and Sexual Abuse Services is hosting its third annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes fundraiser that morning downtown at Beckwith Park, located at the corner of Beeson and Front streets. The event will be headlined with its annual march, with registration beginning at 9 a.m., and the walk starting at 10 a.m.

Participants in the walk are encouraged to collect pledges from family, friends and coworkers prior to the event. Open to all genders, men are encouraged to wear a pair of high-heels or flip-flops, provided on site by organizers, during the walk.

The event will feature food, games for children and a cakewalk, said DASAS Director Kim Kramer.

“It’s a very fun, family-friendly event,” Kramer said.

The fundraiser is moving from its previous location at the Dowagiac Union High School track to run in conjunction with the other events taking place during the Greater Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce’s annual summertime gala, which takes place Thursday through Sunday.

The move was done in part to give greater visibility to DASAS and the support services they offer to victims and survivors of domestic and sexual assault cases, Kramer said.

“It’s always a risk when you change venues, but we’re aiming to evolve the event every year, to get people more aware of us and what we do,” she said.

In the past, the fundraiser has generated between $6,000 and $7,000 for the local support organization, which is headquarter ed in Three Rivers, but also has an office located in Dowagiac. It’s one of two major fundraisers DASAS holds every year, with the other being its Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event in St. Joseph County.

“[The event] helps supplement salaries for staff and pay for various operation things,” Kramer said. “We have several grants that we receive for funding every year, but it’s never enough.”

Organizers are hoping that this year’s event will bring in $13,000 or more in donations, the director said.

While local businesses, churches and service organizations may also sponsor the event, Kramer said she would like to see as many people as possible come out and join the other walkers on Saturday morning, she said.

“The more people that can become active with collecting pledges, the bigger impact we can make, not only from a financial standpoint but from a visual one as well,” Kramer said. “It says a lot when people go out and show they are not afraid to stand up for victims of abuse.”

Walkers who collect $25 or more in pledges will receive a free T-shirt for the event, Kramer said.

People interested in registering for the event before Saturday can do so online at http://www.dasasmi.org or by contacting Kramer at 269-273-6154, extension 102. Representatives with the organization will have a booth at the festival as well, where people can learn about the services it provides.