Local men donned red heels on Saturday morning to raise money for Women in Crisis during the second annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event at City Hall.
This event, which raised $46,054.50 for WIC, was a way for men and women to walk in honour of someone who has been affected by abuse and violence. All funds raised will be used to help Women in Crisis – which offers many services to women in need, including an emergency shelter – continue their efforts here in the Sault.
One participant in Saturday’s walk was Lauri Mercer, a survivor of abuse and violence.
Mercer, who took 29 years to leave her situation, said she’s walking so other women don’t have to do the same.
“(I’m here) to let women and children know that they can live in a violent-free life,” she said.
She said it feels great to know how many people in the community support WIC and women in situations like hers.
“It’s big. It brings the Sault together and shows everybody that we can overcome something – everybody can overcome it.”
Her message to other women in the same situation?
“You’re stronger than you think you are and you can do it; and somebody will believe you.
“To hear someone say they believed me was the biggest relief ever. Because the biggest fear is you always think they won’t believe you, and they do.”
Sonny Spina, who’s been involved in the walk since it’s inception (when we was on the police force), said he decided to get involved because he thought it was a great way to engage and educate the community about violence against women and children.
“This was really a way that we could have a huge statement all at the same time, collectively, that no one in this community will stand for violence against women and children anywhere within our city,” he said.
Spina said he thinks events like this are an important way for the community to come forward and talk about an issue that’s uncomfortable.
“When you have an event like this, it actually gives people the opportunity to come forward and start that really difficult conversation,” he said. “And if this helps one person come forward, it’s absolutely worth it.”
As for walking in heels?
“The shoes really aren’t that bad,” he said.
Spina said he has a new-found perspective and appreciation for how it feels for women to walk in heels.
“It’s actually a little harder standing around waiting for the event, but as soon as I put them on and started walking towards the starting line, I had an immediate appreciation for when I’m walking into a wedding with my wife and she’s walking a little slower than I am.”