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The threat of rain didn't stop more than 40 male St. Ambrose students, faculty and staff members from strapping on a pair of pumps or sandals to protest the looming threat of violence against their daughter, mother, wife or coed classmates.
Alex Berg, a 280-pound junior lineman for the Fighting Bees football squad, put on a pair of racy black pumps and joined another 20 Ambrosians for the May 1 afternoon SAU campus edition of "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes."
"Not too good," Berg said, when asked how those high heels felt. "I had to have somebody help me put the straps on my heels and my toes are numb. But it's for a good cause."
Organizer Steve Tendall, director of St. Ambrose's Counseling Center, said the turnout for a the morning and afternoon walks was about half that of last year's inaugural SAU participation in the international "Walk A Mile in Her Shoes" movement.
Tendall said he believes the event will gain momentum in the years to come.
Billed as a political statement wrapped in performance art, the walks are geared to raise awareness of an epidemic of sexual violence in America.
The statistics are jarring. According to the "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" website, a woman is raped in the United States every two minutes and one in every six American women is a victim of a sexual assault.
"It just brings a lot of emphasis, I think, to a real critical issue," said St. Ambrose athletic director and basketball coach Ray Shovlain, who marched in a gaudy pair of red booties this year after trying high heels a year ago. "Men really need to step to the forefront on this issue."
Junior Joe Morrissey stepped up in a pair of tiger-striped stilettos. As a resident advisor on campus, he felt compelled to support the effort.
"This gets you out of your comfort zone and it does raise awareness," he said.
Watch a News Channel 8 video of the "Walk a Mile" event.