Taking a walk is generally good for one’s health. Taking a walk Saturday morning also can help people benefit the well-being of others.
It’s not too late to join either Haven Women’s Center of Stanislaus’ fourth annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event downtown or Walk MS: Central Valley at Beyer Community Park in north Modesto.
“We do still have several pairs of shoes left,” Denise Hecht, Haven’s public relations manager, said Friday, noting that a lot of participants bring their own shoes, often personalized.
The aim of the event is to generate support in the community and raise awareness about the causes and effects of – and remedies for – sexual assault and domestic violence. Men, and now women this year, do so by walking a mile (really, a bit less, Hecht said) in women’s shoes. Many participants don heels, but “you can wear whatever is comfortable,” she said. “We try to provide low heels and high heels, but we put safety first.” Newbies can be wobbly in heels, and organizers don’t want any twisted ankles. They also discourage sandals.
Haven Women’s Center of Stanislaus’ target is to raise at least $75,000 through Saturday’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.
“Some men are very shocked by the pain they experience (walking in heels), and how difficult it is to keep your balance,” Hecht said. But the bigger thing they take away from the event is they’re often “just very inspired by being out there in the movement, supporting the community in standing together in adopting new attitudes to fight domestic violence and sexual assault. We’re shifting the whole victim-blaming that has been something society has been used to across the board, to taking on more responsibility across the board.”
Though the message is serious, Walk a Mile also is about having fun. Participants – 300 are expected – will find plenty of people encouraging them along the route, and “as they come across the finish line a huge group cheering them on,” Hecht said. Participants also will receive a medal and T-shirt.
Walk a Mile has drawn all ages, she said, including a lot of men in their 20s to 40s, MJC and Stanislaus State students and dads joined by their children.
For the first time, the walk has been opened to women, Hecht said, simply because “a lot of women have asked, ‘Why are we not walking? We want to walk, too.’”
Advance registration has closed, but participants may register Saturday morning starting at 8:30 a.m. in front of the Gallo Center for the Arts, 1000 I St. Registration cost is $50.
A pre-walk program will begin at 9, the walk is at 9:30, and a post-walk program runs from 10:30 to 11 outside the Gallo Center. To learn more, go to www.havenwalkamile.org.
Walk MS: Central Valley
A little earlier Saturday, and in north Modesto, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society is holding Walk MS starting at Beyer Community Park, 1400 Beyer Park Court.
There are 5k and 3k courses, said Kyra Millich, one of the event organizers, who noted that the event is not a race but a “walking or rolling” event to raise funds and awareness.
In 2016, nearly 300,000 people at over 500 Walk MS locations across the country raised more than $40 million.
Hundreds of people are expected to raise more than $82,000 at Walk MS: Central Valley, which organizers said is for “people living with MS, and those who care about them, to connect, join together and be inspired.”
Participants fundraise for the event, and proceeds go to the National MS Society to drive research toward a cure and programs and support for people living with MS, Hech said. One team has raised more than $10,000, she said, and four teams have raised more than $5,000 each.
Anyone can participate, and registration is free. Donations are accepted Saturday morning (cash, check and debit/credit), and anyone who raises/donates $125 will receive an official T-shirt, Hecht said. Anyone who has an MS diagnosis will get a free “Living with MS” shirt. Donations also may be made online at WalkMS.org.
Registration opens at 8 a.m., with the walk at 9. The course is fully accessible, and the event also will include a photo booth, face painting, a prize drawing and a DJ.
Deke Farrow: 209-578-2327