A few dozen men seeking to raise awareness for sexual assault violence against women tried to walk a mile in their shoes Friday _ literally.
Among the participants _ some burly and others bearded _ in the fourth annual "Walk a Mile in her Shoes" event at the University of Alaska Anchorage was the head of Alaska State Troopers, Col. Keith Mallard, who slipped out of one of his red suede peep-toe shoes during the walk.
"I had a blowout," Mallard said sheepishly. "It didn't hinder my progress any. I just had to pull to the side and get a tire change."
The men teetered precariously along the mile-long route, trying to raise money for a local nonprofit that supports sexual assault victims. Donations to Standing Together Against Rape will go toward banishing sexual assaults and other acts of violence against women.
The men were game, even if it meant nearly tripping over their own stilettos.
Vashon Hilliard, whose work involves helping the disabled, stuffed his feet into a colleague's black patent leather pumps. The shoes were a snug fit, but Hilliard didn't let that stop him.
"I just decided it's for a great cause, and why not?" he said.
"Men want to make a public statement that they detest sexual violence," said Keeley Olson, STAR's program manager. "A lot of them have told me that they walk for their sisters, they walk for their mothers, they walk for their daughters. They walk because they care about women."
Amusement factor aside, the underlying message was serious. Signs with messages including "No Means No!", "Got Consent???", "Shatter the Silence," and "Alaskans Can End Sexual Violence" bobbed along in the hands of participants.
Walt Monegan, former head of the state troopers, participated in what he said people were calling old lady shoes. "I'm old, so it's OK," he said.
Monegan, who now heads the Alaska Native Justice Center, said he was taking part because the issues of sexual assault need to be highlighted.
"Sexual assault for some folks is still kind of a sensitive, dark issue," he said. "By bringing this in a humorous light, it eases the acceptance and discussion of it. So, any way we can bring it to the surface is a good thing."