‘Walk a Mile’ returns to WKU for sexual assault awareness week

Participants in Walk a Mile in Her Shoes strut past Cherry Hall on Tuesday to raise awareness about sexual assault. Proceeds from the event go to Hope Harbor, which provides counseling and support to victims of sexual assault. (Mike Clark/HERALD)

Kayla Boyd

It spells out discomfort, wobbly legs, aching feet, scrunched toes, numerous trips and funny reactions from onlookers.

“Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” introduced men to the world of high heels. On Tuesday about 40 men donned their pumps and climbed the Hill as a way to bring awareness to sexual assault.

The $25 entry fee raised money for Hope Harbor Inc., a non-profit crisis center that offers counseling and support to victims of sexual assault. The event, sponsored by the WKU Interfraternity Council, invited any man interested to join in the mile-long trek.

“Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” was Winchester sophomore Brent Stephen’s first attempt at walking in high heels, and based on the walk’s level of difficulty, it might be his last.

“It was a very humbling experience,” he said, still sporting the bright red pumps he walked in. “Girls make it look easy. This kind of showed us what they go through to look good.”

Stephens, a member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, walked alongside one of his brothers, Nashville senior Bryan Hartzell.

Hartzell has completed the walk three years in a row, and he believes it has become easier over time.

He said he continues to participate because he believes it’s the best way to see how big of a deal sexual awareness is.

“It’s a flamboyant way to show the campus what we’re doing and how important it is,” he said.

Stephens said a lot of passers-by smiled. Some even rolled down car windows to get a better look.

“[I] heard a couple of ‘keep it up ladies’ from people,” he said.

The walk began and ended in Centennial Mall, where the sidewalks were lined with facts about rape and sexual awareness.

David Miller, a Louisville junior, is the activities director of IFC and student coordinator for “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.” He said this year the walk was a little harder than in years past.

“The weather made it harder I think,” he said. “And we used to start at the Chi O house, which isn’t there anymore so it’s a little longer this year.”

Although most of the men who participated received some pointers or lessons from their lady friends, none of them were completely prepared for the feat.

Stephens was sponsored by Omega Phi Alpha sorority, and said he had at least five girls telling him how to walk.

“I now tell my girlfriend to just wear flats,” he said. “Walking down the Hill was the hardest part because the ground was so uneven.”

Hartzell hopes more men will sign up next year.

“It really makes you gain more respect for women,” he said.