'Walk a Mile' draws record crowd

More than 1,300 people walked down Fairfield’s Post Road on Saturday, April 28 — many of them men wearing towering red high heels — in support of The Center for Family Justice’s sixth annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes Event.

Led by Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara, this year’s walk showcased the role men, boys and widespread community support can play in helping to break the cycles of sexual violence.

The walk — CFJ’s signature fundraising and awareness event during Sexual Assault Awareness Month — raised $30,000 for the Bridgeport-based nonprofit, which provides crisis and supportive services to victims of domestic and sexual violence and child abuse in the communities of Bridgeport, Fairfield, Easton, Monroe, Stratford and Trumbull.

CFJ’s President and CEO, Debra A. Greenwood, attributed the record turnout at this year’s event to the impact of the #MeToo movement as well as growing support from local corporations and students at area schools and universities. The walk is an initiative of CFJ’s White Ribbon Task Force, a group of male community leaders who work collaboratively to take a stand against domestic and sexual violence.

“What we witnessed this past weekend was a powerful example of what can happen when people come together to say, ‘No More,’ and stand with victims and survivors,” said Greenwood. “We exceeded our expectations for this event; from the crowd size to the support we received from so many community organizations, volunteers, businesses and sponsors.”

More than four hundred students from Sacred Heart and Fairfield universities were part of this year’s walk. Students from local high schools including Fairfield’s Warde and Ludlowe High Schools, Fairfield Prep and St. Joseph High School in Trumbull, also had walking contingents.

“What inspires us the most is seeing the growing number of students involved in this event,” Greenwood said. “Seeing scores of young men from our local colleges and universities walking in high heels sends a powerful message about their willingness not to be bystanders and take a stand. They are joining us in a meaningful way to say sexual abuse and violence, in any form, is intolerable.”

This year, CFJ presented a special award at the walk’s conclusion to fraternity brothers from Sacred Heart University’s chapter of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity for their role as activists in the efforts to combat sexual violence on and off the SHU campus.

“They have proven, in such a meaningful way, that men care too,” said Greenwood.

MacNamara told the crowd the event reminds us how “only a small minority of men” perpetrate acts of sexual violence and gives voice to men and boys who support victims and survivors. “This march is a show of public support that sexual violence has no role in our communities,” MacNamara said.

The presenting sponsor for this year’s Walk a Mile in her Shoes was Aquarion Water.

Additional support and sponsorship came from community organizations and businesses including Merit Insurance; the D’Amico family; Russell Speeder’s Car Wash as well as Johnny Vazzano and the Vazzy’s family of restaurants. Other event sponsors included Star 99.9; Fairfield Magazine/TownVibe.com; the Bridgeport Sound Tigers; HK Consulting; Sacred Heart University; the Automatic Door Company; Bagel King; the University of Bridgeport; The Fairfield Police Union; Fairfield University; Pathway to Mindfulness and Whittlesey.

For more information, visit CenterforFamilyJustice.org.