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Walk a Mile in Her Shoes recap

April 17, 2011

In my last post back in February (I am obviously still not posting as often as I should), I said that I would be participating in the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes walk to benefit the Prairie Center Against Sexual Assault (PCASA). This organization provides help for ALL victims of sexual assault (men, women, AND children) and seeks to prevent it as well. The idea of the walk is for men to literally walk a mile in women’s shoes to raise awareness of sexual assault. Anyone is allowed to walk, but the whole point is for men to put on heels and walk a mile in “her shoes”.

SIDE NOTE: I have been told on several occasions recently that pretty much any act done “under the guise of ‘raising awareness'” is an “empty, meaningless gesture”. I take very serious issue with that statement. True, simply “raising awareness” of a disease or social problem (or whatever) doesn’t really do anything to actually combat said disease or social problem (or whatever), but raising awareness is where it starts. I concede that the simple act of, for example, my wearing a pink shirt on Fridays in October does nothing in the fight against breast cancer, but if my wearing that pink shirt gets one woman to seek medical attention or to start doing monthly self-examinations, then I strongly argue that the gesture was neither empty nor meaningless. Similarly, if my walking in a mile-long parade in high heels causes one person even to just stop and think about how serious sexual assault is, then it has meaning. Again, I realize that giving money goes far longer than does putting on a shirt or a pair of women’s shoes, but to say that those gestures are meaningless is, quite frankly, rather insulting to me. But enough with that little pet peeve of mine.

Anyway, yesterday was the Walk a Mile walk. Walkers met up at Caitie Girl’s restaurant downtown at 9:30am to register, turn in last minute donations, and get their shirts and shoes (the organizers provided shoes for walkers that asked in advance for them, so they didn’t have to buy them).

Walkers convening at Caitie Girls before the walk

[Click on images to see larger picture]

Walkers could be individuals or in teams. There were a few teams there that I saw, but I was there as an individual. Strangely, I didn’t see anyone I knew there (that’s rather odd for me to go somewhere in town and NOT know someone), so I just sort of spent the next hour or so just sitting there and feeling rather like I was at my freshman homecoming dance, at which I sat by myself watching all the cool kids socialize.

Molson and Josie from Alice-FM’s morning show were there, and while they weren’t actually doing a remote from the event, the station’s programming was being played in the restaurant, so I just kinda hung out there and listened, trying hard not to look too much like a groupie or something. I’d seen their pictures lots of times before, but this was the first time I’d ever actually seen Molson and Josie in person. Johnny Molson is about my size, and Josie is actually quite a bit taller than I thought she would be. And also quite a bit better looking.

Molson (in ball cap with hands in pockets) and Josie from Alice-FM

They were handing out “string packs” with the station’s logo on them, so I asked Josie if I could have one, and when she gave me one, I proceeded to confirm my dork status and give her the old “I’m a big fan, I listen to you all the time!” shpiel, that I’m sure she’s heard over and over, before I could stop it. So I took my string pack, stuffed it into my backpack, and slinked away, feeling every bit the loser I am sure I appeared.

While I was ticking away the minutes until the walk started, I was approached by two girls, probably around 12 or so, asking if I wanted a couple strands of beads. I figured, why not, and accepted them. Then I noticed people walking around with PCASA beer cups, so I wandered over to this table that was loaded with them and, whether I was “supposed to” or not, I grabbed one. It also had a PCASA clicky pen (LOVE the clicky pens!) and a purple “Stop Sexual Violence” lanyard, so I was all, “Oooooh, free swag!” Anyway, I put my event shirt on, and eventually, it was time to start the walk.

For the benefit of those that don’t live in Springfield, the weather yesterday was rather ugly. Friday night we had some pretty strong storm cells come through the area (multiple tornado warnings, but nothing major, that I ever heard), and yesterday’s weather wasn’t really much better. Right around start time (10:45), it was all of about 43 degrees with very gusty winds, and was misting, after having rained fairly steadily for about 10 minutes prior to that. Not exactly the best weather for walking outside. At a couple points during the walk, I swear it even sleeted a little.

Anyway, we went outside and lined up along the sidewalk, and then right before the walk started, several of Springfield’s finest blocked all the intersections along the route and we all went into the street and started walking.

Outside, just before we stepped off

Starting at 5th and Washington, we marched east on Washington St. (i.e., the brick section along the north side of the Old Capitol mall complex–whose sadistic idea was that?!), and turned south onto 7th St. As we walked, I was noticing the drivers of the cars that were being blocked by the roughly 500 people walking. Most appeared quite perturbed. I loved it. I gave the more inconvenienced-looking motorists my best parade wave. I’m sure that helped.

Turning onto 7th St.

Along 7th St., about a half a block north of the Hilton (The Penis of the Plains, for those familiar with the area), a woman with a megaphone shouted “Halfway, people… HALFWAY!”, which resulted in cheers and hooting from the already haggard walkers.

Passing the Hilton on 7th St.

During the course of the walk, I noticed that some of the male walkers were wearing women’s flip-flops and slip-on shoes. Technically, there’s nothing wrong with that, but I inwardly judged them as cheaters for not wearing heels. That was the whole idea. Bottom line, they were out there walking, raising awareness, and raising donations, but I still labeled myself “better” than they because I was wearing three-inch stilettos. So there.

So after a couple blocks down 7th St., we turned west onto Capitol Avenue (again, walking over two blocks of bricks) to end up at the State Capitol building, an easily recognizable structure with a dome on top, in which nothing productive seems to ever be accomplished. But I digress.

The home stretch to the Capitol

Saucy!

As we got to the train trestle, under which Capitol Ave. goes, there was a group of about 15 men [in heels] that proceeded to sprint the last block or so toward the Capitol, where the walk ended. Idiots. From what I heard, one poor bastard stumbled and bit the asphalt pretty hard. Myself, I chose to continue walking, and stayed upright. The steps of the Capitol were in view, and I wanted to get there with the least amount of shame possible.

About a block to go!

The finish line!

Literally the last guy in the walk (red sweater). He was struggling, but he finished!

Along that final block, Janet, one of my friends from high school who had come out to support me and the other walkers, met up with me and walked the final couple hundred feet with me to the finish. We stepped up onto the curb, up the steps, and I was relieved and rather impressed with myself that I had just walked a mile in high heels, and still had all my ankle and knee bones and tendons in the same condition as they were when I started.

I made it!

They are all deteriorating anyway due to my middle age, but at least I didn’t snap an ankle or tear an ACL or anything, which, to be perfectly honest, I was somewhat expecting to inadvertently do. But still, upon reaching the Capitol steps and successfully finishing the walk, I changed back into my tennis shoes. The sensation of walking in tennis shoes, after having spent about 90 minutes in heels, was really kind of bizarre at first. Actually took me a minute or two to get my legs back under me.

Fellow SSHS alum Randy Flood in his fishnets

There was a “rally” on the steps of the Capitol, at which the organizers thanked all the participants, gave a speech about the importance of stopping sexual assault, and even had some sort of bizarre “Jersey Shore”-based performance. They had a Best Heels contest, the prize for which was, I believe, nothing more than bragging rights, but was still pretty cool that they did it. There were some pretty bitchin’ shoes. Some really, REALLY high heels, some go-go boots, and all manner of pumps and heels, some thick, some spiked, some wedges. (Yes, I know what wedges are, ladies. I’m not a complete idiot!)

These were friggin AWESOME!

Then there was an “after party” back at Caitie Girl’s, where we started, where they had beer and mixed drinks available, and a foodservice warmer of chili available. We had left the rally before it had actually ended, and by the time we got to Caitie Girl’s, the chili was nearly gone. I drank a couple Miller Lites for lunch (it was that or Bud Light, so I chose the vortex bottle). Once the rally was over and everyone was back from the Capitol, they handed out prizes for Most Funds Raised by a team and by an individual (over $1100.00!!), and by a child. The winner of the child category was this cute little guy with Down’s syndrome. He was absolutely ecstatic to have received the trophy. He held it over his head and jumped up and down… it was SO sweet. They drew names from the walkers and handed out “need to be present to win” prizes, like GCs to restaurants and other places that sponsored the walk. I hung out for a little while, then I left to go pick up the boys from Grandma & Grandpa’s.

Be jealous, haters.

First off, let me say that I did quite well walking in the shoes Dawn picked out for me. Don’t know where she got them, but they were only $10 (score!) and were FAAAAAAAAAAAbulous. I even had one woman ask if she could buy them off of me. I had a few uneasy steps, but didn’t do any ankle rolls or stumbles, even on the brick, but all in all, I did quite well. In fact, the only ankle roll I did do was back at Caitie Girl’s afterward in my tennis shoes. So go figure. Anyway, we weren’t being judged on our form, so I figure as long as I made it, I did what I came to do. I had practiced walking in them a few times, with Dawn giving me “pointers” like “You need to shuffle a little more”, “Try not to lead with your heel”, “Stop swinging your arm so much”, things like that. I told her, it’s a charity walk, not a female impersonator contest. But then she reminded me that if I want to last the entire mile, working on form a little bit wouldn’t hurt. I wasn’t exactly Heidi Klum on the runway, but I at least felt like I did well enough. I felt more confident and comfortable than some of the other guys looked like they felt.

My shoes. Yeah, I know the socks look stupid, but I dont have any blisters today.

I put the pictures up on Facebook and, as expected, the comments came from the woodwork. Some teased, some said I had more balls than brains, but most were very supportive and congratulatory. One of my friends even thanked me for “making a difference in the world”. I don’t feel like I even remotely “made a difference” at all, but I understood what she meant and was most humbled by that comment. Sexual assault is a horrible, horrible crime and needs to be eliminated. If my lumbering about in high heels for a mile can even potentially help put an end to sexual assault, I’ll gladly lumber about.

I had wanted to do this walk for a while. I first heard of it a couple years ago and thought, “I could do that”. Trouble was, I never heard anything about it until the day after the walk, when a picture appeared in the paper. Then this past February, I saw something on Twitter about it, and clicked on the link, which took me to the registration page. I didn’t even think about it- I instantly signed up. It’s a great cause, it was actually kinda fun (even though my calves are STILL pissed off at me), and I will do it again next year, and every year until it is no longer necessary. And will be asking you for donations again, hint hint hint. I raised right around $375.00- way, WAY more than I ever thought I would- and I hope to break that next time. Whether I do or not, though, this is something that is important to me and the support you gave me (and that I hope you will give me in the future) is immensely and profoundly appreciated, from the bottom of my heart.

And now I can start scanning the ads for new, totally cute shoes to wear. That Best Heels title will be MINE!

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Marjorie permalink
    April 17, 2011 7:29 pm

    Walking again in your tennies must have felt like it did when I was a kid, and we took our roller skates off. It was sort of like foot vertigo. It was a good thing you did!

  2. April 17, 2011 10:55 pm

    Yeah, it definitely made me a little ooky.

  3. April 20, 2011 1:35 pm

    1. Dude, I couldn’t walk one block in heels. Honestly. I have never really worn heels at ALL. Impressive!
    2. No pantyhose – er, boxerhose? Hmpf.
    3. Congratulations, and bravo. Totally wonderful.

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