Monday, April 28, 2014

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to make my first full day of appearances in the Capital Region! Because I was crowned in Clifton Park, I'm committed to making appearances in the area to give back to the community that has supported the Empire Pageant Organization for years. While it is wonderful to make appearances in my home community of Westchester, I've been having such a great time making connections with Albany-area organizations and getting to know the region.

My first stop of the day on Saturday was to the annual Walk A Mile in Her Shoes at Samaritan Hospital in Troy. At Walk A Mile events held nationwide, men literally walk one mile in women's high heeled shoes to protest sexualized violence, educate their communities, and raise money for underfunded rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters, and other sexualized violence prevention and recovery services. Samaritan Hospital's walk raised funds for The Sexual Assault and Crime Victims Assistance Program for Rensselaer County--the only agency in the county that provides comprehensive, specialized services to victims of sexual violence, victims of stalking, older adults, homicide survivors, and other victims of crime (as well as their family members, friends, and significant others).*

The turnout for this event was incredible, and all of the men participating were such great sports about having to rock heels for the morning! Their styles ranged from over-the-knee lace up boots to simple red pumps, but they all looked great supporting this important cause. I helped a sweet hospital intern, Roshaun, man a table where walkers had the chance to write down their reason for walking. Roshaun was also displaying a posterboard and wheel that she had designed that outlined the phases in the cycle of abusive relationships.

These two young women were a startling reminder of how violent abuse can be.

I was so incredibly moved by this woman's story. After murdering a young woman in front of her, her ex-husband attempted to kill her as well. She survived, and now (many years after the attack) was proud to be walking as a sign of her strength. 

Before the official walk kicked off, local mascots took part in a mascot race! 

With the Valleycat's Mascot -- he may not have won the mascot race (the Stewart's cow did), but was still in great spirits while he supported the community.

After the mascot race, we had the chance to hear from two survivors of sexual assault. This was a particularly powerful moment of the day. One of the survivors has participated in this Walk for a few years now, and is a top fundraiser for the cause. She spoke about how she isn't afraid to speak out about what happened to her, and how she will not let anything silence her. The other survivor was a gentleman sharing his story with a crowd for the first time ever. Both survivors came from different walks in life, but were equally inspiring and a reminder that sexual assault can happen to anyone. We also heard from the local police department, and it was announced that the Troy Police Department will be creating a Special Victim's Unit dedicated to addressing sexual assault and domestic violence. 

It is so wonderful to have the local police department dedicated to supporting victims of domestic violence!

Then, it was time to walk!
Check out the crowd!

I'm so thankful that I had the chance to be a part of this event. The core of my platform may focus on preventing teen dating violence, but I am dedicated to stopping all forms of domestic violence and sexual assault. Thank you to the Samaritan Hospital team for welcoming me as a volunteer. I'm looking forward to attending next year's Walk A Mile event already!

With Lindsey, Director of the Sexual Assault and Crime Victims Assistance Program at Samaritan Hospital.

With Roshaun, a talented Samaratin Hospital intern.

I've posted more pictures on my facebook page, and there are also pictures available on the Times Union website!

*Descriptions of Walk A Mile and The Sexual Assault and Crime Victims Assistance Program are adapted from their websites.

No comments:

Post a Comment

site design by designer blogs