Written April 2015

Walk A Mile In Her Shoes 2015


Leonard A. McHugh

Once again I participated in the “Walk A Mile In Her Shoes” fund raising program for the Sexual Assault Resource and Counseling Center. This will be the fourth time in which I could join the walk. It is a light hearted program designed to bring awareness to the sexual assault problems. On April 23, 2015 close to one hundred men walked in high heels. I read that it is estimated that nationally only thirty percent of all sexual assault cases are reported. Although it is primarily children and women who are victims, many men are also assaulted.

I have always been the highest fund raiser and hope to be again this year. I requested donations from many friends and some businesses.

On Sunday, April 12, I attended my Pastor’s two church services wearing shorts, nylons, yellow peep toe pumps, a T-shirt that reads “walk a mile in her shoes” and my hat that reads “blind people feel better.” Toga my Freedom Guide dog had a walk a mile in her shoes sign on her harness and a yellow bow that matched my shoes. She also wore a beaded necklace that complemented her yellow bow.

For me I always try to add some humor in my presentations. It helps to keep interest. I mentioned that during one of the summer services, Pastor Jim made a funny comment about yellow shoes. I told everyone that there is absolutely nothing wrong with wearing yellow peep toe pumps, especially for a good cause. I then described my shoes that my wife embellished with rhinestones. They are peep toe with a bow, two and a quarter inch heels and rhinestones placed in a pattern around the shoe and on the bow. I also was wearing a yellow ribbon ankle bracelet that she made with the same rhinestones. Now I do not believe that any woman wearing peep toe pumps would not be seen without their toenails painted. So my wife painted my toenails with a bright red and a silver sparkle overlay. I kicked off one of the shoes so many could see Karen’s art work. Again a lot of laughter and a comment or two about my legs and how nice my foot is shaped. This really had the women attending the services laughing.

I then followed that with a few statements that kind of describe me in a nutshell. And they are as follows:

I then went into the seriousness of sexual assaults and how SARCC helps victims and their families. I briefly told the story about the woman that is my motivation. About 20 years or so ago she was raped in her home while her young kids were there. This was a home break-in.

Now again I had to end on a high note. I stated that over the years getting ready to go out, I always wondered why it took so long for my wife to get dressed. I told them that I finally understood and can describe it in one word, “pantyhose”. I waited until the laughter stopped before continuing. I told them that I had to have my wife help me to get those stupid things on. My pastor asked if I was really wearing pantyhose. I told him yes and he asked me not to prove it. I was wearing shorts to flaunt my legs and ankles.

Before going back to my seat, Pastor Jim asked if anyone had any questions for me. It was a little touching that one woman that attended our service for the first time spoke up. She went on to say that she may not be here if she did not get away from her x-husband because he abused her. I am sure it took a lot of courage for her to speak up. I wonder what she first thought when I walked up front wearing those pretty yellow shoes with all of the bling?

It is so funny to hear the woman complain that my legs are nicer than theirs. The woman that I told the tragic story about her being assaulted in her home, says “I do not care, Lenny, from the knees down you are all woman.” Anyway, it was really worth going to the church services. I collected almost $400 for SARCC.

Now on Monday, my nails were still painted and friends at the local hospital’s cardiac rehab and balance therapy were trying to help. So I got a pair of my wife’s knee high stockings. When we arrived at the hospital to pick up the collected money, I changed shoes before I walked into the cardiac rehab center. You should have heard the laughter. While there I asked them to call one of the supervisors that I knew. When she came in she again started laughing. Then I asked if they knew anyone who would join in the walk. She told me that she will try to talk some hospital employees into joining in the walk, they all agreed that it is a wonderful program.

I exceeded my goal of $2,212 one dollar more than my highest amount, I did secure a respectable $2,300 amount for this year. So for the four walks in which I participated I collected over $6,000 for SARCC.

Now during the actual walk, I do have a big problem with Toga. Since the walk is formed like a parade, Toga knows that we belong on the sidewalk. I have a hard time keeping her walking straight in the middle of the roadway, she insists that we need to be over on the sidewalk. She will take every opportunity to get me off of the street to where she feels safe. This year a few people walked next to me to help keep us in the middle of the roadway.

After the walk, we all met for some awards and some nonalcoholic drinks and food. I was given some recognition for collecting over $6,000 for the four walks in which I participated. There was also a special recognition certificate for me being the oldest guy in the walk. I just turned 68 and I still do not know what I want to do when I grow up.

What was especially nice was that Kelly Choate, a reporter from WBRE/WYOU TV, came down for the walk and to interview me. They took pictures of Toga, my shoes and my hat that reads “blind people feel better.” The reporter asked many questions on why I feel it was important. She also asked about Toga. Before she came down she read some of my stories on my web page. These stories especially the one about the walk a mile program really is what made her excited about the program and interviewing me. The interview was great, it focused on my abilities not disabilities. The interview can be watched at Blind Man, walks a mile in her shoes.

I do hope that this story encourages others with disabilities to become involved in their communities. You will always get more out of it than you put into it.

Please, if you suspect that someone is being sexually abused report it.

© Photos by Rachel Imschweiler
These two photos were taken during the 2015 walk a mile event.
 This is a close-up of my feet in the yellow peep toe pumps showing my painted nails and added bling to the shoes. It also is a close-up of my Freedom Guide Dog Toga. She also has her nails painted, wearing a yellow bow and displaying a sign that reads walk a mile in her shoes.

This is a picture of the walk in progress.  There are some people walking with me trying to help keep Toga from taking me to the sidewalk.

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