First Friday encourages the community to walk in downtown with a purpose and in high heels for the 9th annual “Walk A Mile in Her Shoes” to support domestic and sexual violence awareness and prevention.
This is the fourth year for the walk to be organized by the Delaware County Coalition of Victim Services with Main Street Delaware. Sponsored by Terra Nova Community Church, and from Performance Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram Delaware, the walk is free and open to everyone, but participants are urged to wear high heels for the mile-long march.
Registration begins at 6 p.m., with the walk starting at 7 p.m. at the intersection of South Sandusky and William streets. The First Friday event goes until 9 p.m.
“Violence doesn’t know any boundaries,” said Susie Bibler, Main Street executive director. “It’s definitely in our community.”
The walk is part of a worldwide movement started by Frank Baird, now a marriage and family therapist in California, in 2001.
“Violence against women does not just affect women,” he said in an online statement. “Men are hurt and angered when women they care about are raped. Men are hurt and angered when they try to develop relationships with women in an atmosphere of fear and mistrust and blame. And the same violence that targets women also targets men because rape isn’t about sex, its about power, control and violence.”
Last month, Delaware County Prosecutor Carol O’Brien informed county commissioners her office saw an increase in the number of crime victims last year.
“Last year we touched the largest number of victims ever,” she said. “We had over 2,000 victims that had contact with our office in one year.”
O’Brien said that opioid use has play a big role in the increase.
Craig Hill, a member of the victim services coalition, said the walk will communicate the community’s lack of tolerance for sexual violence. He hopes victims of sexual violence will know the community is there for them.
“First Friday has just been a great way to increase the numbers,” he said.
During the first year when Main Street and the coalition partnered up for the event, there were about 50 to 75 walkers, said Jason Allison, Terra Nova’s senior pastor and a Main Street board member. But last year, there were 300 walkers with a crowd size of 5,000 to 8,000 people.
In addition to the walk, Main Street Delaware’s May 5 First Friday will feature a disc jockey and music provided by GCJ Technology, free Kona Ice samples and downtown stores and restaurants open late for the event.
Additional free First Friday parking will be available at both the Delaware Police Department, 70 N. Union St., and at Delaware County’s Hayes Administration Building, 140 N. Sandusky St.
For information go to www.walkamileinhershoes.org.
Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.