Before the event was to begin, a couple Carthage College staff and students announced the winners of a raffle. It took the winners quite a while to walk from the crowd to the makeshift stage, but not because of the distance between them.
It took time because the winners, all males, had to claim their prizes while wearing high heels. Needless to say, the victory lap was not very graceful.
Carthage men donned high heels Thursday night for the campus’ Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event, which raises money and awareness of sexual violence in a fun and social way.
At the event, men put on high-heeled shoes and attempted to walk around, in this case taking laps around the Carthage track. Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is an international event and organization, but Thursday marked its first time at Carthage.
Mary Belknap, outreach coordinator for Carthage’s sexual violence support services, said she was very familiar with the event and wanted to bring it to campus. Because it centers around getting men to wear high heels in public, its success is not assured. But Belknap said she was pleased with the turnout.
“There has been a great response,” she said. “It’s a fun way to bring light to a serious topic.”
Belknap said the goal was to promote awareness of sexual violence, which is particularly a problem on college campuses. One out of four college women are survivors of sexual violence, and only 30 percent of sexual violence crimes get reported to authorities, according to the Bureau of Justice.
But awareness wasn’t the only thing being raised. The event also raised money for the Women and Children’s Horizons, a local mission and support center.
“We’re here to bring healing and understanding to people who’ve experienced sexual violence,” said campus Pastor Kara Baylor. “I’m pleased you’re all here, and I’m shocked at how well some of you are walking in those.”
About 100 high heeled, ruby red shoes had to be specially ordered by a company who makes heels for transgendered men and Hollywood productions.
Female students at Carthage donated heels for the event, Belknap said, but they wouldn’t fit men. The event offered flip flops if the guys didn’t want to try the heels, but she said everyone was game for the heels.
“It’s a walk, not a race,” Belknap told the group. “It’s OK to take your shoes off. Women do it all the time.”
The guys were good sports about it, dressing up and striking their best posses. Josh Kopka, a senior at Carthage, walked about five laps with his friends before taking a break.
“It was awful. It hurt,” he said. “But I’m glad I did it. It’s always fun to come out with the student body and support a great cause.”