'Would you have the courage to Walk a Mile in Her Shoes?'

Cheyenne Jaiman of Bridgeport supports New York’s J. Brandon Thomas as he fits his feet into women’s shoes for “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” in Fairfield Saturday, April 27. (John Kovach Photo)

Wearing red women's shoes, Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara leads "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" through downtown Fairfield Saturday, April 27. The event raised awareness of violence against women for the Center for Women and Families of Eastern Fairfield County. (John Kovach Photo)

Young and old walked to show support for victims of violence against women during "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" Saturday, April 27. (John Kovach Photo)

Robbie Pack of Robbie’s Pack in Fairfield spreads the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” message, painting a white ribbon on the face of Peg Tyminski of Fairfield. (John Kovach Photo)

Among those who donned feminine footwear for “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” on April 27, in Fairfield, were Daniel Chizmadia of Shelton, from Leadership Greater Bridgeport; Martin Goodrich of Bridgeport, Raul Barada of Bridgeport, both from St. Vincent’s Special Needs; and Bill Truini of Monroe, from the Stepney Fire Department. (John Kovach Photo)

Deb Greenwood, director of the Center for Women and Families of Eastern Fairfield County, encourages participants in the group's first "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes," held April 27 in Fairfield. (John Kovach Photo)

Police chiefs from the towns covered by The Center for Women and Families of Eastern Fairfield County showed their support for the the organization’s first “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” Saturday, April 27, in Fairfield. Admiring the pumps worn by Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara (second from right) are Easton Chief James Candee, Trumbull Chief Thomas Kiely, Stratford Chief Patrick Ridenhour, Bridgeport Chief Joseph Gaudett and Monroe Chief John Salvatore. (John Kovach Photo)

Fairfield police Chief Gary MacNamara gained a new respect for a significant segment of the population Saturday, April 27.

MacNamara was among the men who donned women’s shoes, then walked from the downtown train station to Fairfield Town Hall as part of “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” raising awareness of violence against women.

Saturday’s was the first “Walk a Mile” event held by the Center for Women and Families of Eastern Fairfield County, Executive Director Deb Greenwood said. “Walk a Mile,” a national program, has been held in this area, but not by the Center for Women and Families.

It will become an annual event, MacNamara said on the steps of Fairfield Town Hall after the walk, in one of the six towns served by the Center for Women and Families: Fairfield, Bridgeport, Easton, Monroe, Stratford, and Trumbull.

Police chiefs and officers from all six towns participated in the Fairfield walk, though not all wore women’s shoes for the walk.

Also in attendance were Fairfield First Selectman Michael Tetreau, Easton First Selectman Thomas Herrmann, state Sen. John McKinney, state Reps. Kim Fawcett, Tony Hwang and Brenda Kupchick, and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal.

“I’m so excited,” Greenwood said of the presence of police chiefs, officers, state’s attorneys, victims advocates, and court officers walking to show support for survivors of domestic violence.

The opportunity to hold “Walk a Mile” arose through a grant from Leadership Greater Bridgeport, a program offered by the Bridgeport Regional Business Council. The grant was earmarked toward a local “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.”

Greenwood credited MacNamara with working since September to help the Fairfield event get on its own two feet.

April was chosen for Fairfield’s “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” to focus attention on Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Awareness Month. The Center for Women and Families holds vigils in October to recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Hwang (R-134th District) was particularly moved by the number of college students, many of them young men, who marched in an event that started at 9 a.m. on a Saturday.

“Being the parent of a college daughter, I’m way too sensitive to the social dynamics of college and dating, and to have these young men come out is impressive,” said Hwang.

The largest delegation Saturday represented the Delta Tau Delta fraternity at Sacred Heart University.

Student Joe Giffune said the fraternity’s philanthropy platform is working to eliminate violence against women.

Delta Tau Delta President Kyle Beam said the walk helped kick off the fraternity’s week working to fight violence on campus. Events at SHU include a bonfire, guest speakers and a Dance Dance Revolution competition to raise money for women’s causes.

“Next year we’re hoping to get all of Greek life involved,” Beam said of the walk.

State Rep. Brenda Kupchick (R-132nd District) was among those saying “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” should become an annual event.

“There’s a lot of energy,” said Kupchick, who has worked with the Center for Women and Families for about eight years.

On the steps of Town Hall, Blumenthal continued to campaign for gun control.

Dawn Hennessey shared her story of learning her son was a victim of sexual molestation at the hands of former Penn State football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, and the family’s efforts to recover.

Domestic violence survivor Patty Collins read a poem, which Greenwood publicly asked to post on the Center for Women and Families website, describing the life of a woman trapped in domestic violence.

“Would you have the courage,” Collins asked in the poem, “to walk a mile in her shoes?”

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