Record fundraising & participation for Walk a Mile in Her Shoes 2012

COLUMBIA, SC - This year's Walk a Mile in Her Shoes®, hosted by Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands on April 12, set records for fundraising and participation. The third annual event raised more than $17,000, with more than 600 participants helping to rally the community in the fight against sexual violence.

Many prominent Midlands-area men donned women's shoes for the cause, including South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, Lexington County Sheriff James Metts, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin, Assistant Solicitor Dan Goldberg, Columbia Police Chief Randy Scott, Lexington Police Chief Terrence Green, Forest Acres Police Chief Gene Sealy, Springdale Police Chief Kevin Cornett, Chief Chris Wuchenich of USC, and Chief Howard Cook of Columbia College.

"It really raised awareness about the trauma that women experience when they are sexually assaulted. It is hard to understand how another person feels until you walk in her shoes," said Metts, whose Lexington County Sheriff's Department won for largest team, registering 43 people.

Second place went to the USC Division of Law Enforcement and Safety (team name: "The Gamecops"), followed closely by the Columbia College Police Department ("C-Squared").

Metts said he was pleased a large number of male law enforcement officers participated in the event. He said that as a result of investigating sexual assaults, many officers have a greater understanding of the physical and emotional toll that sexual assaults take on women.

Using hashtag #scwam, participants and media tweeted before, during, and after the Walk, generating heightened interest - and scores of photos of men balancing in heels. The festive event also serves to raise awareness about the free and confidential services STSM provides in Richland, Lexington, Newberry, and Sumter counties.

"It was my first time walking, and our team had a great time," said STSM board member Sheryl McAlister. "A survivor of sexual violence exhibits an incredible amount of courage by coming forward. And while we may not know just how many survivors - men, women, and children - were walking last week, this event provides a safe place for those who have survived and those who support them."

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® is one of many events STSM holds throughout April, which is designated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). All SAAM activities can be found at www.stsm.org. 

Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands (STSM), formerly named Rape Crisis Network, is a private, nonprofit, United Way member agency committed to providing free, direct services to survivors of sexual assault and abuse, including 24-hour crisis hotline, hospital accompaniment, court accompaniment, personal advocacy, individual and group counseling, and education about sexual trauma issues.