Hundreds strap in, put on for Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event in Pittsfield

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PITTSFIELD — From strappy stilettos to pink-velvet sandals and glittering red pumps, hundreds of people donned their best Thursday as they raised money to fight domestic violence.

About 875 people paraded along the 1-mile Walk a Mile in Her Shoes route on North Street, raising more than $90,000 for the Elizabeth Freeman Center, the city's domestic violence and rape crisis center. The ninth annual event coincided with the final Third Thursday of the season, drawing thousands of people to downtown Pittsfield.

Each year brings another high-profile instance of domestic violence, and each year the crowd gets bigger. This year was no different, said Sue Birns, a board member for the Freeman Center, pointing to a quadruple homicide in March in Sheffield. In that case, investigators believe that Luke Karpinski killed his wife and three children before setting the house ablaze and taking his life.

There have been 10 women and children killed in acts of domestic violence over the past five years in the Berkshires, she said.

"That's ridiculous in a county this small," she said.

Some among the hundreds of participants carried buckets that they used to collect cash from the crowd, while others carried signs with hopeful messages.

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"Not all wounds are visible," one sign said. "End domestic violence."

The event took an ironic turn when two young women got into a fight over a mutual romantic connection. One of them was taken to the hospital with seemingly minor injuries after her head hit the sidewalk with a thud.

Burns said the annual fundraiser is vitally important to the center. State grants fueling the domestic violence organization often require a local match, she said, and the annual Walk a Mile helps provide that.

Plus, the ritual unites the community around an important cause.

"They're community problems," she said. "They're not the problems of individuals."

The night also drew to a close the 13th Third Thursday season, said Jen Glockner, the city's cultural development director. About a dozen staff members work all summer on the series, and this season, the event grew to more than 100 vendors.

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.


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