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Men walk to raise awareness

3/5/2014

By ELIZABETH GOLDEN

egolden@dailynews.net

The Interfraternity Council at Fort Hays State University hosted the sixth annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event Monday.

Approximately 50 men walked, complete with wobbly ankles and near-death experiences.

Due to inclement weather, Walk a Mile took place in Memorial Union, which caused participants to walk up and down stairs.

Kyle Mayor, IFC president, said they couldn't fit the mile indoors without implementing "death traps."

Through 16 sponsors, numerous T-shirt sales and participation fees, all proceeds raised were donated to Options: Domestic and Sexual Violence Services and Jana's Campaign.

"This year, we are proud to announce a partnership with Jana's Campaign," said Joshua Maples, a graduate assistant for Greek life and leadership, "whose mission is to reduce gender and relationship violence through education."

In partnership with the various organizations and sponsors, Maples said, the walk shows the IFC's commitment to end gender-based violence.

"There's an old saying," he said. "You can't really understand another person's experiences until you walk a mile in (his or her) shoes. Today, we walk to show support; we walk to educate; we walk to advocate; we walk to stop rape, sexual assault and gender violence. Today, we walk a mile in her shoes."

Curt Brungardt, president of Jana's Campaign; Charlotte Linsner, executive director of Options; and Keegan Nichols, assistant vice president for student affairs at FHSU, spoke at the event.

"Five and a half years ago, my daughter, Jana Mackey, was murdered by an ex-boyfriend," Brungardt said. "Since that time, I travel the country and talk to groups of men."

Brungardt asked the men in the room to live a life of dignity and respect, and treat women with respect.

"I want to ask the men in the group to challenge each other," he said. "Hold your buddies accountable for their actions and their words and their deeds. So often, we cover for our buddies when we shouldn't. Stand tall and stand against violence toward women."

Nichols said after she encountered a moment of violence in 2008, she developed an interest in stopping violent situations, and, along with Curt and Christie Brungardt, developed the Campus Safe Initiative at FHSU.

"I was a doctoral student at Northern Illinois University," she said. "I was walking home when I got a text from a friend saying, 'Get off campus. There has been a shooting.' I thought this couldn't be true. Moments later, I heard the ambulances, the screams, the helicopters. That was my first experience with violence."

Nichols said the Campus Safe Initiative is a comprehensive community and university team that is working on a plan to stop violence.

By fall, Nichols hopes to have plans for educational programming, new procedures and protocol for working with violence cases.

After the men walked a mile, Maples and Mayor presented checks for $835 each to Options and Jana's Campaign.

To view a video of the event, click here.