Eighty walkers and their supporting friends and family were in the downtown area of Red Deer today for the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event today (September 13, 2023). Many of the walkers donned bright red or pink stilettos in honour of the event that raises funds to support those experiencing gender-based or domestic violence.
This year, the event was moved to the downtown area of Red Deer and overall Executive Director of the Outreach Centre, Ian Wheeliker believed it was a success.
“This year we’re right on track to raise $50,000 which will go into the programs that support victims of domestic violence at the Outreach Centre. It's a great day,” said Wheeliker.
Not only were there more participants this year, but the Outreach Centre will see more donations this year.
Several local sports teams took part including players and staff from the Blackfalds Bulldogs, the Central Alberta Buccaneers, the Red Deer Titans Rugby, as well as local businesses and other organizations. Red Deer RCMP officers could also be spotted donning high heels in the downtown core. Some participants felt inspired to run their laps in high heels while others felt slow and steady was safest.
Wheeliker said the event wouldn’t have been possible without their sponsors.
“We have our major sponsors like Servus, and CO-OP. Then the presenting sponsor this year, John Donald and Heather Knoll, they presented us with a check for $25,000 towards the walk this year,” added Wheeliker.
The need for social programs such as those at the Outreach Centre that support victims of domestic violence continues to increase.
“This year, the demand for service across all of our programs has gone right back up. And like all the other agencies, we're expecting there to be an increased demand for the next couple of years,” he explained.
The challenges are not just from the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic but also a challenging economic climate.
“The mental health issues, the anxiety issues coupled with now the economy, inflation, and financial stress [takes a toll on people]. All that over the last three or four years is really pushing people and families over the edge. We want people to know that we're here, we want to help and reach out. If you need any support at all,” he added.
Although the needs are great, the Outreach Centre is doing their best to keep up with the needs of the community. This fall they helped support kids as they went back to school by providing supplies through their Tools for School program.
“We served more kids this year than last year by about by about 50 but that was all because of the generosity of the community. I just want to say thank you to everybody that carries so much in this community,” said Wheeliker.
As Walk A Mile in her Shoes wraps up, the Outreach Centre is looking forward to their Holiday Hope Campaign. This year, Wheeliker says there will be a special focus on low-income single parents and their children.
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