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Walk raises awareness of domestic violence
Men to stroll in womens shoes
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Forsyth County News

If you go

* What: Walk a Mile in Her Shoes Forsyth 2012

* When: 2 p.m. Sunday

* Where: Fowler Park, 4110 Carolene Way

* Cost: $25 to participate; free to attend

* Online:

The male perspective will be elevated Sunday as men slip on some heels at Fowler Park.

The second annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes Forsyth will raise awareness for domestic violence issues and financial support for the Forsyth County Family Haven shelter.

The walk, which begins at 2 p.m., is actually less than a mile, but the steps in women’s shoes can be challenging for the men, organizer Leslie Dinkins said.

“The point is to have the guys experience one small thing that can be a challenge for a girl,” Dinkins said.

Not every man participating puts on heels, she said, but the guys are required to wear “non-athletic shoes.”

Prizes for best shoes, most graceful and most challenged walker will be awarded by audience choice.

The Forsyth County Domestic Violence Task Force holds the event as a “lighthearted way” to spark discussion on a “heavy-hearted topic,” Dinkins said.

“It’s important to bring awareness because domestic violence is not a topic that a lot of people are ready to talk about or willing to talk about,” she said. “It’s something that’s a problem in every facet of society.”

She added that about 3,000 victims receive assistance each year in Forsyth County.

The international event took place locally for the first time last October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, outside of the Forsyth County Courthouse.

The group moved the location to Fowler Park this year to increase space and safety for the event, which will have more walkers than last, Dinkins said.

With the event at Fowler, concessions and activities for children will also be available.

Registration for walkers is $25 through sponsor United Way of Forsyth County, with proceeds benefitting Forsyth County Family Haven.

Dinkins said the men often sometimes pay the fee, and instead have a sponsor who wants to see him in heels.

Fundraising is critical for the local shelter that provides victims of domestic violence and their families with a variety of services, said Millie Irizarry, executive director of the nonprofit.

The number of people coming to the shelter has increased during the economic recession, but donations have gone down, Irizarry said.

“We need to make sure that we have enough money to pay for the lights and the water and all the basic needs because they live here, and they don’t pay anything,” she said. “If it wasn’t for the support of the community in general, it would be very difficult.”

To help bring in donations, the organization also operates a thrift store on Veterans Memorial Boulevard.

Family Haven, which opened in 1989 in Forsyth County, offers “a 24-hour crisis hotline; a safe, temporary, emergency shelter; emergency food and clothing; counseling services; assistance in filing Temporary Protective Orders; support groups; and a prevention education program,” according to its Web site.