Taking the high (heel) road: 'Walk a Mile in Her Shoes' raises funds for Freeman Center

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PITTSFIELD — Sometimes being macho means taking a stand against domestic violence, and walking a mile in heels.

And that's exactly what Pittsfield Police Chief Michael Wynn did on Thursday during the 7th annual Walk a Mile fundraiser for the Elizabeth Freeman Center. For his part, Wynn wore 3.5-inch, pointed-toe leopard print heels. Ankle strap and all.

"My wife actually picked out the shoes," he said, hobbling to the sidewalk. "This is the most painful thing I do every year."

Wynn stressed the importance of the work the center does and how the department relies on the partnership.

"Domestic violence and sexual violence are pervasive public health and safety issues," he said. "This is everybody's problem."

From velvet stilettos to the strappy high-heeled sandals donned by Sen. Adam Hinds, around 700 sets of feet marched in this year's event, while hundreds more lined the streets carrying signs and cheering. The community had already raised $60,000 by the time registration began.

Janis Broderick, executive director of the center, said the event is the biggest fundraiser of the year. The center's youth prevention programs stand to benefit the most, she said, as often that's one of the hardest areas to land funding for.

She said each year the event gets people to "step out with style and determination for a better future."

"It brings people of all types together for the cause — all ages, races, backgrounds and sexual identities," she said. "It's just such a fabulous community effort."

Regi Wingo, prevention team leader for the center, said it's important to instill these values in our children and to teach them about healthy relationships from a young age.

"They mirror what they see us do," he said. "It's important to get them involved at the ground level."

Michelle Carmon, who marched with Haddad, brought her three young sons along.

"It's good for them to learn at a young age," she said. "It's always a good thing to bring awareness to. Nobody likes to talk about it."

Raul Cortes, who marched with his friends, said the pain he was feeling was worth it as he tipped the collection bucket he was carrying to reveal its contents.

"We're going to suffer the pain of wearing these shoes to show that we're against domestic violence," he said.

Reach Amanda Drane at 413-496-6296, or @amandadrane on Twitter.


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