ELKINS - Area men rolled up their pant legs and donned women's high heel shoes Thursday to help raise awareness of sexual violence against women.
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes was sponsored by Women's Aid in Crisis and Davis & Elkins College. Local men marched through the college campus in high heels during the event.
Renee Yokum, sexual assault service coordinator with Women's Aid in Crisis, said a man named Frank Baird created the national Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event in 2001 because he wanted men to experience a fraction of the pain that women experience following abuse.
"We are pleased that local men will come out and pick out a pair of women's shoes to wear as they walk around the campus of D&E College," Yokum said. "This is our first Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event in Randolph County.
"We appreciate folks standing up to say they do not support rapists."
Yokum said during the week, instructors and students at the college wrote inspirational and encouraging messages on nine umbrellas that women carried as the group looped around the campus.
"We appreciate the community support for this event," Yokum said.
Beverly resident Mike Riggleman said he thought the event was a great idea.
"More people need to get involved and be aware of abuse in our area and across the world," Riggleman said. "We need to make sure sexual violence doesn't happen. Women's Aid in Crisis workers do a wonderful job of taking care of women who need help."
Randolph County Chief Magistrate Ben Shepler took part in the event, sitting down to pick out a pair of shoes. He selected a pair of heeled boots.
"I am not looking for comfort," Shepler said. Magistrate Rob Elbon also took part in the walk.
D&E student Wes Hendrix selected a pair of beige two-inch heels to wear for his walk.
"These are perfect, " Hendrix said.
Elkins Mayor Van Broughton also joined the walk. He first selected a pair of bright red, four-inch heels, but later opted for some flip-flops.
"I am happy to participate," Broughton said. "This is such a great cause, and we need to bring awareness to violence against women. I commend the organizers at Women's Aid in Crisis for putting this together to give residents the opportunity to work for the good of others."
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes started out as a small group of men daring to totter around a park, and has grown to become a world-wide movement with tens of thousands of men raising millions of dollars for local rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters and other sexualized violence education, prevention and remediation programs.