Behind the Forum River Center on Friday, 96 people in a crowd of 350 raised red slips of paper in the air to represent the number of Georgians who lost their lives to domestic violence this past year.
That number represented men, women and children, three of those deaths happened in Floyd County.
“That’s why we’re here, that’s why we walk,” Ashley Demonbreun-Chapman outreach coordinator for the Hospitality House said. “One is too many.”
There was a moment of silence before the walk began to honor those who lost their lives.
“We need to break the cycle and we walk for the survivors who haven’t come forward yet,” Demonbreun-Chapman said.
Men coming out and showing support meant a lot to Demonbreun-Chapman, who said that in the past domestic violence has been seen mostly as a women’s issue. It was good to see people come together literally as well as figuratively to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.
“It encourages us to not judge someone when we are not in their shoes,” Demonbreun-Chapman said. “It’s not about asking the questions ‘why won’t she just leave?’ It’s really about — even though we don’t completely understand the situation — showing our support.”
The event drew a big crowd behind the Forum River Center where women’s shoes of all shapes and sizes were available to be worn by any willing participants. The male participants were strongly encouraged to wear women’s shoes to get the full effect of the walk.
There were several mascot appearances, photo opportunities, and dance parties before the walk began. The sexiest and hairiest leg competitions were back again this year with winners Jeff Ledger and Todd Williams both taking special prizes home. Ledger was recognized by the crowd of participants as the participant with the hairiest legs, and he took home a weed trimmer. Williams had the sexiest legs out of his competitors, and claimed a full range fire cooking system.
Walkers headed out from behind the Forum River Center and walked down two blocks of Broad Street before circling back to where the walk started for the 11th consecutive year. Demonbreun-Chapman said she hopes those who have not yet sought help from domestic violence will see how much the community cares and reach out for help.
Those who need help can call the 24-hour crisis line at 706-235-4673 or go to www.hospitalityhouseforwomen.org to learn more.