This past Saturday’s “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” benefit raised $20,000 for Our VOICE, a crisis intervention and prevention agency serving victims of sexual violence in Buncombe County. The April 30 event drew around 300 men (as well as around 150 women) who walked through downtown wearing women’s shoes to make a statement against sexual assault and abuse (see Xpress video coverage from the event).
As they walked, many of the event’s participants carried signs — “Imagine a world free from sexual violence,” “Consent is cool” and “It’s a man’s issue too.” Before the event, participating teams and individuals raised funds about $16,000, with registrations and donations on event day making up the remainder.
A short awards ceremony was held after the walk: Marco’s Pizzeria earned “Most money raised by a team” (more than $7,000). The award for the top individual fundraiser went to Bruce Kennedy, who raised more than $1,000.
Though the amount raised fell short of Our VOICE’s goal of $25,000, it still doubled last year’s total, and according to Our VOICE, could fund 400 hours of free counseling sessions for victims of sexual assault, 200 hospital packs to replace clothing surrendered as evidence at the hospital for a rape investigation, or training for 100 volunteers to answer crisis lines and accompany victims to the hospital.
The event also drew several prominent Asheville and Buncombe County officials. Retiring APD Chief Bill Hogan, Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan, and Asheville City Council Member Cecil Bothwell all participated in the walk.