The title on the stack of papers near the event’s entrance read, “Helpful hints for walking in heels.”
No. 1: Stand tall, poised, with shoulders back.
No. 2: Place your weight on heels, using the toes to balance — don’t wobble.
The list continued, offering 10 tips in all.
As the walkers piled into the Presbyterian Church Thursday night, they ignored the tips and eagerly made their way to the pews to slip on their pumps. Police Chief Don Engler stepped into three-inch black ones picked up on the discount rack at Nordstrom’s. Ray Kinsman placed white stilettos on over his thick gym socks.
John Wakelin noted that his red heels matched his dress and clutch. Roundup photographer Andy Towle found some canvas lifts that matched his jeans. Roundup advertising executive Bobby Davis coordinated his maroon high heels with his rich red shirt.
With their spouses and relatives looking on, the men tested their weight and took a few steps. Within minutes, Engler and Wakelin were leading the pack of walkers down Main Street.
“He makes it look easy,” one onlooker said of Engler.
“He has good posture,” another quipped.
Asked if he had walked in heels before, Engler quickly answered, “No! At least not that I am going to admit to.”
And he may never do it again, but for one night, half a dozen men put their egos aside and strapped on high heels to take a stand, and sometimes a stumble, against domestic violence.
The first-ever local “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, sponsored by Time Out, Inc., raised more than $1,000 and for the first time, brought men in on the group’s effort to end abuse during its annual march. The donations will help the full-up shelter cope with a $130,000 loss in state funding and a $30,000 loss in federal funding. The cutbacks come in the face of a sharp rise in domestic violence cases in Rim Country since the onset of the recession, despite a drop in crime overall.
“Men have to become the solution; if they don’t become the solution, the cycle just continues to spread,” said Sue Yale, Time Out’s board president.
“Men,” she continued, “real men, can wear high heels.”
Joining Engler, Wakelin, Kinsman, Towle and Davis was Apache Junction Police Chief Jerald Monahan, who is a member of the Governor’s Commission to Prevent Violence Against Women.
The evening walk started out smoothly enough. Everyone enjoyed a good laugh at the men in their various kicks, but around the half-mile mark, several men had broken into a sweat and were leaning on companions for support.
Davis, who stumbled repeatedly on wearily wobbling ankles, wondered if he could make it. Peering at his feet, Davis ignored rule No. 8: “Walk with confidence and stay focused, don’t look at your feet.”
Towle meanwhile, outpaced everyone, running and back and forth in a pair of denim wedges snapping pictures.
This too proved counter to the rules and Towle took a stumble. He rolled to protect his camera, drawing a round of applause from the walkers.
Kinsman, 88, who hiked the Grand Canyon several times, said the one-mile walk in heels was harder than any trail.
Engler noted that his shoes’ wide heels provided good stability.
Engler’s mother came out for the event to watch her son take his first step in heels, said Engler’s wife.
After the walk, Camille Levee, Time Out’s executive director, said the men’s support had touched a number of Time Out’s clients.
“It is a wonderful and amazing thing what all of you are doing, taking the time and making us feel like we are not alone and can make it through the obstacles in our lives. I am a strong woman and you being here … you have made me stronger,” one “thriver” wrote.
With October being National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Yale urged everyone to help break the cycle of abuse.
“We would like to be able to close our doors; that’s our goal,” she said.