It's the fourth year the Cumbee Center has asked men to take this very public stand against sexual assault and even though the guys were a bit wobbly, their message wasn't. (WRDW-TV / April 12, 2012)
News 12 at 11 o'clock / Thursday, April 12, 2012
AIKEN, S.C. -- Men wearing high-heeled shoes strutted through downtown Aiken on Thursday as part of "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes."
It's the fourth year the Cumbee Center has asked men to take this very public stand against sexual assault and even though the guys were a bit wobbly, their message wasn't.
Feathers, bells and painted toenails all made their way onto grown men's feet.
"They're killing me. They're killing my toes," said one participant.
But it was the stilettos that made the statement.
"That's why we walk in high heels, we walk a mile in her shoes," said organizer Paul Volz.
The now much-taller men paraded from the courthouse, down Richland Avenue and then into the Alley, and as you can imagine, they got a lot of attention -- which was exactly their point. They want you to know one in three women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime, in hopes awareness will help stomp out the problem.
"Just seeing how often it happens, just seeing it in the neighborhoods, the numbers are insane, it happens to so many people," said walker Byron Stephens.
It's personal for Volz.
"My mother was a victim of domestic violence, and I was a victim of sexual assault when I was younger, " he said.
Others are here to make sure their loved ones never become a statistic.
"To me, personally, I have a niece, a sister, a mother, and I wouldn't want this to happen to them," said walker Richard Glover.
So these men say they're man enough for the challenge.
"Coming out here, we're proud of who we are as being men," said walker Ruben Freeman. "Proud to take a stand against sexual assault."
Even if that stand hurt a lot.
"It seemed like two blocks, but it felt like a marathon. It was long. I don't see why women do it ... or why," Stephens said.
But every one of these men sure had a good reason.
The message was serious, but there was a lot of silliness, too. The event included more than just a walk. Organizers handed out awards for best legs, highest heels and best shoes.
They also held a "Walk a Mile in her Shoes" event in Columbia on Thursday.