The Center for Cultural Diversity at the University of Nevada, Reno hosted the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes fundraising event to help benefit the Sexual Assault Support Services (SASS) program, which is part of the Crisis Call Center for the university. The Center, as it is known around campus, partnered with the Crisis Call Center, the Student Health Center, the Counseling Center and Phi Beta Sigma fraternity for the event, which drew more than 150 people, clad in heeled shoes, to walk a mile on the track around the football stadium.
“Sexual assault does happen in our community,” said Kasey La Foon, program assistant for SASS. “One in 5 women and 1 in 33 men will be a victim of sexual assault in their lifetime.” La Foon said the focus of her program has a “victims first” mentality and provides the message that men can stand by women as allies allowing them to become more aware that sexual assault can happen to them. She said the event literally let people “lean on each other” for positive reinforcement.
“How often do you get to wear high heels and run around a track to a DJ? It’s a great way to have fun,” La Foon said.
An opening statement by Reno firefighter Mike Sprinkle of Sparks stressed the importance of awareness on the part of men.
“Men need to recognize that (sexual assault) really happens and that it is not just something you read about in the papers,” he said. “We have a real responsibility to protect all the loved ones in our lives. Often times we focus on women but it could be any of us.”
Sprinkle was one of several men who walked a mile in heels and said it was not as easy as it looks.
“It was difficult, but that is absolutely the point and I think it really drove home the message,” he said, adding, “It makes every guy out there realize that when we put women up on pedestals and want them to dress like that there is a price that goes with it.”
Sparks High School volleyball coach Tarina Elliott was on hand to walk a mile for members of her family who have been affected by sexual violence. She said it was a great way to support the community by showing awareness of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Her journey around the track was not as tough as Anthony Dionisi’s, however, who was one of the final participants to finish walking.
“I definitely feel like I am the slowest,” Dionisi said. The 22-year-old information systems major laughed with a half smile and said, “You definitely feel the pain. Women might joke about it but it is very real.”