For Steve Long, walking in women’s shoes wasn’t enough to show his support for a cause in which he believes.
He went for the whole outfit, from his pink bob wig and a sleeveless dress to a pair of purple, suede pumps.
Long was one of many men who risked their ankles, and maybe a little pride, to participate Saturday in the Forsyth County Domestic Violence Taskforce’s “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” fundraiser to benefit Family Haven.
The organization operates a shelter and other programs for local victims of domestic violence.
The men strolled the block around the Forsyth County Courthouse and across Veterans Memorial Boulevard and back as motorists honked their horns while they passed.
Long said he paid the $25 registration fee and posted on a social networking site “that if anybody came up with 200 bucks I’d be willing to do it in drag.”
As it turned out, one of Long’s friends donated the money, which he gave to the fundraiser.
Long admitted the shoes hurt, but the pain failed to deter him.
“I didn’t come here to fail,” he said.
Leslie Abernathy, Forsyth County’s solicitor general, addressed the group before the walk.
“Domestic violence affects millions of people,” she said. “In the last year, 15.5 million children witnessed an act of domestic violence.
“Georgia currently ranks 10th in men killing women, 130 fatalities that were domestic violence related in 2010. Forty-three percent of those murders were witnessed by children.”
Abernathy noted that 7,544 victims were provided shelter from domestic violence in 2010 across Georgia and 2,636 were turned away because of a lack of space.
“These are very staggering statistics,” she said. “As a community, we must work together to decrease these numbers.”
Organizers have previously said that some 2,800 victims of domestic violence have been served by various agencies in Forsyth County so far this year. In 2010, that number was closer to 3,200.
Scott Wilbanks, director of Forsyth County Family and Children Services and a member of the task force, also wanted to support the cause.
He took a more casual approach to Saturday’s fundraiser, though, and wore bright pink flip flops donated by Old Navy.
Kristin Jones, a legal advocate at Family Haven, took photos of the men and her boyfriend, who donned a women’s size 15 pair of red, patent leather heels for the event.
“I’m very proud of him,” Jones said. “It’s a good cause.”
Bill Roach said he didn’t get what he expected.
“This is Kristin’s idea of conservative,” Roach said. “I said conservative and low heel, this is what I got.”