Hundreds of men walked in high heels around Olympic Plaza on Sept. 18 to raise funds and awareness for domestic abuse programs in Calgary.
This year was the ninth annual Walk A Mile In Her Shoes, an event that the YWCA holds every year to raise money to fund the programs and counselling they offer to women, kids, and men who have been involved in domestic abuse situations.
“We need the support of the community. We have to raise a lot of money every year in order to provide the services that we do,” said Sue Tomney, chief executive of the Calgary YWCA.
So far this year, the YWCA has raised more than $169,000, which is not even half of the amount of their initial goal of $350,000.
In 2013, more than $402,000 was raised and in excess of $2 million has gone to domestic abuse programs the YWCA provides over the past nine years.
Ben Tsui, who walked for his sixth consecutive year this time around, said he, along with others, noticed “donation fatigue” this year.
“I think the big difference is that the event had no ‘big’ corporate sponsor,” said Tsui.
Pengrowth Energy Corporation had a three-year deal that ended in 2013, and they contributed to the larger totals recorded in previous years.
The Pengrowth team alone raised $162,000 of last year’s total.
The lack of corporate sponsorship didn’t stop some 240 men who walked two laps around Olympic Plaza in high heels.
“Without that big sponsorship, we wanted to do everything we could as a small team,” said Tsui.
The money goes to domestic abuse programs that help women and children, as well as maintaining YWCA shelters that many seek in times of need.
Approximately 1,150 women and 340 children stayed at a YWCA shelter last year.
Funds raised also go towards counselling programs specifically for men.
“Working with women is only half the equation because really, at the end of the day, it’s about healthy relationships,” said Tomney.
More than 700 men sought out counselling treatments at the YWCA in 2013.
A large audience gathered around Olympic Plaza as spectators cheered on men of all ages walking in the event.
Many of the men were returning walkers and wanted to show their continued support for the community and the YWCA.
Carlos Cuevas, also known as ‘Goodwill Carlos’ on Kool 103.5, walked for his third year.
“I have a sweet spot for the YWCA. We’ve worked closely through work and I love helping them as much as I can,” said Cuevas.
When it comes to next year’s event, Tomney hopes it will be bigger than ever, as it will be the tenth anniversary.
Tomney encourages everyone that wants to help spread the word about the YWCA and educate others about the programs provided.
Tsui and Cuevas do have some words of advice for first time walkers that want to get involved next year.
“Don’t wear high heels until you are ready to start walking. Your feet will thank you at the end of the day,” said Cuevas.
“Throw away your inhibitions. Do it as a team and remember who you’re doing it for. And just have fun,” said Tsui.
The YWCA is still accepting donations. Visit their website to donate or to learn more about how you can get involved next year.