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Penn State Mont Alto students Walk a Mile in Her Shoes

Event raises awareness of rape, sexual assault and gender violence

March 23, 2011|By ROXANN MILLER | roxann.miller@herald-mail.com
  • Anthony Council, a sophomore at Penn State Mont Alto, wears women's high heel shoes as he walks with other students across campus in the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event to raise money for local rape crisis and domestic violence centers.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

MONT ALTO, Pa. — Holding a sign that read, "I am man enough to walk in her shoes," Anthony Council teetered back and forth — trying not to fall — as he attempted to balance his weight in a pair of red peep-toe heels.

While his fashion sense of wearing white socks with stylish red pumps was certainly off course, the Penn State Mont Alto sophomore's heart was definitely in the right place as he participated in the campus' Walk a Mile in Her Shoes on Wednesday.

The event was part of the 10th anniversary celebration of the international men's march to stop rape, sexual assault and gender violence.

"This is my first time walking in red pumps, and they're killing me," said Council, laughing through the pain.

Despite the rain and his aching feet, Council, who is from New York, said it was worth walking a mile around campus.

"It's important to show a woman that they're not alone, and that we're here for them," he said.

This is the second year that the college has held the walk for men and women to take a stand against sexual violence.

Amanda Blaugher, who coordinated the event, said it not only raises funds for Women in Need in Franklin County but also raises awareness.

"This is something that affects everyone. Everyone has a mom, an aunt or a grandmother. With one in six women being sexually assaulted in their lifetime, everyone knows someone that's a victim, or as I like to refer to them, a survivor," said Blaugher, assistant coordinator of residence life at Penn State Mont Alto.

She said it's tough to find ladies heels in men's sizes.

"The cost of doing this program is rather expensive — to get 50 pair of men's size high heels is about $1,200," Blaugher said.

So, she asked Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg, Md., and Desales University in Center Valley, Pa., to participate in a shoe exchange to gather 50 shoes to fit the men.

Penn State Mont Alto's resident assistants went door-to-door with students to raise funds for the cause. Last year, Blaugher said the walk raised $130.

"We never have a goal because every little bit counts," said Blaugher, who expects to raise about the same amount this year.

Before the walk began, Dominicus Tolbert shoved his men's size-13 feet into a pair of ladies' high heels that were obviously too small for him.

Things started to look grim as the Penn State Mont Alto sophomore attempted his first hill.

"I need help," said Tolbert as he wobbled back and forth, trying his hardest to get up the hill on his own steam.

Without hesitation, sophomore Megan Brown and junior Holly Koons linked arms with Tolbert helping him climb the hill with only a few clumsy moments.

"It was a great experience, and it was a very worthy cause," said Tolbert, who knows someone affected by sexual violence. "I feel like I've made a difference — that I've done something in my life."

For him, walking in pain for 30 minutes because his feet were crammed into overly tight shoes, was a small price to pay for helping someone.

"If this is what it feels like to be in her shoes, you have to step up. You have to give women the credit that they deserve," Tolbert said.

For Brown, a sophomore from Newport, N.H., the event hit close to home.

"There are people in my family who abused me and my siblings. I think it's a worthy cause. I got out of it. I took myself away from that situation, and now I want to help other people get away," said Brown who walked in wedge heels for the mile event.

She thinks it's important that men participate in the event.

"Women aren't the only ones being abused. They aren't the only ones who have to go through some of the things that women are known to go through. And if they show that they understand that it's happening — they can do something to stop it, especially with the college-age kids. They can stop it from happening to their kids and their grandkids and their family," Brown said.

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