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Men of all ages and shoe sizes gathered at the corner of 18th Street and Capitol Avenue, ready to walk one mile in women’s high heels to support WEAVE’s first “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event.
“There are so many men that are affected by sexual assault, and this is a way for men to show their support,” said Amber Stott, WEAVE director of communications relations.
Stott estimated that since Friday WEAVE has raised over $63, 000.
Stott said all proceeds will go to WEAVE and benefit the various services that WEAVE provides, including counseling, WEAVE safe house, legal assistance, prevention programs and 24-hour support and response teams to help survivors of sexual assault.
In addition to hosting the event, WEAVE members also participated.
“We thought it was important to bring attention to the issue of sexual assault, and this is a really great way to spotlight this issue,” WEAVE board member Bryan Merica said while wearing his gold heels, knee-high socks and white headband.
The River City Gems, a transgender and cross-dressing support organization, also played a big part in the event.
Member Melissa Hansen, 51, said WEAVE contacted the River City Gems to help with the shoe distribution process and to coach the men walking in heels.
At 10 a.m. Saturday, 215 men walked toward the starting line as a crowd of up to 500 people cheered them on.
Roseville resident Shannon Pagel, 22, said she came to support her boyfriend, Dan Thompson.
“It’s fun to see men appreciate what women go through,” Pagel said.
The men anxiously waited at 19th and Capitol as retired news anchor Stan Atkinson announced the guidelines for the race.
“After the completion of each lap you will receive a different color lei and your race master will count your leis at the end of the race,” Atkinson said. “We not only encourage cheating, but we recommend it. May the best fellow win.”
The men took off walking and running in their heels of blue, white, gold and red as the crowd cheered in excitement, taking pictures and laughing.
Some men held signs that said “I am man enough to walk in her shoes” and “Put yourself in her shoes.”
Toward the end of the race, some of the men struggled in their heels, taking off one shoe, and eventually walking barefoot until the race ended.
“In my mind I didn’t think it would be that difficult to walk in a pair of heels, but after the first five minutes I thought, I’m in trouble,” said Jeff Briggs, 40, who lives in Carmichael.
The men who had completed the race wore three leis of purple, red and black around their necks.
After the race was over, the crowd shifted to the main stage on the corner of 19th and Capitol Avenue, where members of WEAVE gave out awards to participants.
The first award was presented to Santiago Proano, 39, a resident of Midtown, for “dude with the hairiest legs.” Atkinson handed Proano a large jewelry box with a silver pearl necklace with the words “Hairiest legs” written inside the box.
“This is great,” Proano said. “I’m so proud of it and I would do it again!”
Out of four teams, Activate Direct won for “most team spirit.”
Team member Matthew Eagan, 30, said it felt great to win and was happy to have a full team at the event to support WEAVE.
Sammy Cemo, 70, raised the most money for WEAVE with a total of $5,125.
“It was pretty easy,” he said. “There are so many people that are aware of WEAVE.”
The after-party kicked off at the Beer and Wine Garden, with free alcohol and live entertainment by Azuar. Vendors and information booths were set up in support of the event, including The Sacramento Bee, First Aid, Icing on a Cupcake and Le Spa.
Le Spa manager Robin Fischer, 48, said she heard about the event on the radio and thought it was a great idea.
“I think this event has been super! ” she said. “I’m totally impressed!”
Most of the men had taken off their heels by then, but Jason Poole, 27, founder of Bar in a Jar, still had on his high heels.
Poole said his teammates suffered from ankle scrapes and bruises, but he ran five laps, surpassing the one-mile goal. He said he definitely would participate again.
WEAVE volunteers were satisfied with the turnout of their first Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event.
Stott hopes men will walk away with the ability to talk about women’s issues.
“We will definitely have it again next year,” Stott said.