FAIRFIELD, Conn. — It’s not every day that Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara dons bright red peep-toe pumps and struts down the Post Road. But Saturday wasn’t the first time, either.
MacNamara was one of several local dignitaries — albeit the only one in heels — taking part in the annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event. Held by the Center for Family Justice in Bridgeport, its goal is to help break the cycles of sexual and domestic violence and abuse. The Center serves Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford and Trumbull.
“The crowd speaks for itself,” said McNamara, a four-time participant who admits he isn’t usually the first to the finish line. “This is really building awareness forward.”
About 1,000 participants were expected at the walk in support of women and girls that kicked off at 9 a.m. on the Post Road and concluded at the Town Hall Green. The walk coincides with the last day of Child Abuse Awareness Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
The event is usually noteworthy for the number of men and boys participating, an indication that sexual assault and abuse are not just women’s issues, said Beth Fitzpatrick, a spokeswoman for the center.
This year’s walk included several groups from local schools, including the University of Bridgeport, Fairfield University, Sacred Heart University, St. Joseph’s High School, Fairfield Ludlowe High, Warde High and Fairfield Prep. Walkers also raised funds for the center through pledges that were expected to reach $30,000.
Merit Insurance of Shelton was the chief corporate sponsor.
Some walkers were members of the center’s White Ribbon Campaign, a group of male community leaders committed to engaging men and boys in the efforts to end domestic and sexual violence.
Several members of Fairfield Prep’s lacrosse team walked together before a game later in the day.
Junior Ben Kasper admitted he wasn’t walking in heels for the mile-long trek.
“It’s hard to find size 12 men’s heels,” joked his teammate Owen Callahan, also a junior.
“We wanted to support a good cause with the whole team,” said Callahan, who said the school held a spirit day Friday to raise awareness.
Founded in California in 2002 by community activist Frank Baird, Walk a Mile has grown to a worldwide movement, including tens of thousands.
“Every year, this walk inspires us and reminds us how critical it is to engage men and boys in the efforts to break the cycle of sexual and domestic violence,” said Debra A. Greenwood, President/CEO of The Center for Family Justice. “We believe prevention is possible and this walk is an important step forward in those efforts.”
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