CLINTON — For his first time wearing heels Josh Schupbach picked a vivacious pair of red stilettos. He took off the flat shoes he’d been wearing Tuesday morning, slipped on the pumps and grabbed a purse. Then he ran.
Schupbach wasn’t the only man running in ruby heels Tuesday morning. More than 30 male leaders from the community and Ashford University donned bright red heels for the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event to promote sexual violence awareness.
“It was hard. Definitely harder than I thought it would be,” Schupbach, a graduate assistant track and field coach, said after he was awarded the first-place award in his division. “I don’t really have a lot of shame and it’s a great community event.”
Participants were lined up, then signaled to begin the race. Some bolted, others took their time reaching a baby car seat containing a watermelon that they then had to carry to a shopping cart a few yards away. Once they had the baby carrier in the cart, they maneuvered around a a cone and pushed the cart back to the starting line.
More than 200 people watched the male leaders run, walk and wobble on Tuesday morning in the courtyard of Ashford University’s main campus.
The Walk a Mile in Her Shoes organization was created in 2001 and has grown to become a worldwide movement with men raising funds for local rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters and other sexual violence education, prevention and remediation programs.
Ashford student and YWCA employee Connor Murphy spoke about the prevalence of domestic violence in the community. The YWCA domestic violence shelter and resource center served more than 620 people last year.
“Men speaking out or participating in events like this has a huge effect on domestic violence awareness. Silence against these crimes is a form of acceptance and that’s why we’re here today,” Murphy said.
This is the first year Ashford University has hosted the event, organizer Audra Adams, manager of service learning at Ashford University, said.
“This event was a huge success. It’s all about raising awareness and we had students, community leaders and community members here watching this event and becoming more aware,” Adams said.
The event coincided with the YWCA’s Take Back the Night event, which took place Tuesday night.
Unlike Schupbach, Clinton firefighter Josh Mussmann tired walking in heels before the event.
“I did some practicing at home in my wife’s heels,” Mussmann said. “I wanted to participate because it’s a good thing for the community.”
Despite his practice and nimble pace, Mussmann couldn’t out run fellow competitor Norlan Hinke, Rotary Club president and senior vice president at Clinton National Bank, who took first place in the community leader division.
“It’s a great cause and a fun event,” Hinke said. “It was great to have a little competition, too.”
What Hinke’s competitors didn’t know was that he had a secret weapon that would guarantee his win.
“My trick was, I picked a size smaller than I needed,” Hinke said. “They hurt, but they stayed on.”