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July 31--Several men will have the chance next week to walk in women's high heels as they join the fight to bring awareness to domestic violence through an initiative by Family Services of Davidson County.
The nonprofit organization will hold a small fundraiser during the Lexington Police Department's National Night Out that takes place downtown from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday. The goal of "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" is to inform the community of the valuable contributions men are making to stop domestic violence, sexual assault and gender violence -- and to educate the community and raise much-needed funds for the domestic violence shelter and prevention programs of FSDC.
"The awareness issue is a really big part of it," said Julia Toone, executive director of Family Services. "It sends an important message to the community."
The walk will begin at 7 p.m. on the corner of Fourth and North Main streets with registration starting at 5 p.m. at the Family Services booth in front of Sam's Car Wash. Men will walk on the sidewalk from Fourth to Center Street and back.
With this being the first time the agency is hosting this type of fundraiser, Toone said, the goal of having 20 men participate has been surpassed. The walkers were asked to donate or collect funds toward the cause. Also during the walk the men will carry purses to collect additional money.
United Way of Davidson County President Dr. Lee Jessup is one of the participants. Family Services is a United Way affiliate. Other familiar names who plan to participate include Lexington Mayor Newell Clark, Lexington City Manager Alan Carson, Davidson County Manager Robert Hyatt, Lexington Area Chamber of Commerce president Burr Sullivan, J. Smith Young YMCA chief executive officer Gene Klump, Lexington City Councilman Frank Callicutt, Turlington & Co. owner Mike Turlington, Carolina Investment Properties president Robin Team, Tyro United Methodist Church Pastor Randy Foster and Walt Rouse of Mountcastle Insurance.
Jessup said he believes this is the first time an event such as this one has taken place in Davidson County.
"Family Services does a wonderful job in Davidson County in dealing with the whole issue of domestic violence, and it really isn't just a woman's issue. Men need to be involved in this in every way. If a group of us can get together, wear high heels and walk a mile at the National Night Out, I'm happy to be apart of that," Jessup said.
"I am a little concerned that some of my brothers who are up in age, and they shall remain nameless, will be able to pull this stunt off. I'm hoping that Family Services will have emergency services on-site in case some of my brothers twist an ankle, or we have to carry one another up and down the street. But it ought to be a lot of fun. It's going to be an exciting event. Anything we can do to take action against violence in the home and our community, we men ought to do."
Participants are encouraged to register in advance by calling FSDC at 249-0237 or by emailing Julia Toone at email@example.com. Shoes will be provided for those who need them. Supporters can go online at www.fsdc.org.
Toone encourages community members to stop by the booth to find out more information about its services and what the agency offers. The agency provides counseling, crisis intervention, shelter for domestic violence and sexual assault survivors, juvenile delinquency counseling and parenting classes, among other services.
"National Night Out is about safety," Toone said. "The two events go hand in hand. It's very impressive (the Lexington Police Department) is collaborating with us for this event. I'm really excited about it."
Deneesha Edwards can be reached at 249-3981, ext. 213, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Deneesha on Twitter: @LexDispatchDE
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