NEW MARTINSVILLE - Led by a local Warthogs motorcycle club, nearly 100 men, women and children protested against domestic violence in New Martinsville Saturday afternoon by participating in the "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" program.Dozens of local men showed their support by walking in women's high heels or other women's footwear adorned with flowers.After a ribbon cutting ceremony just north of the hydroelectric plant - participants walked 1 mile south on Howard Jeffers Road to a small ballpark where other festivities were set up for the event."Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is actually an international mens march ... It's to bring awareness to domestic violence and sexual assault," said Patricia Flanigan, deputy director of the YWCA Family Violence Prevention Program. Flanigan said the event has been a year in the planning."Everyone that's here supporting this walk is the voice of every domestic violence victim that's ever been at the hands of an abuser," Flanigan commented.
She was delighted that many of her family and friends participated in the event."I think it is very important to raise awareness that these things go on in our local communities and it could be happening next door. It is something that needs to be put out there and made aware of so people know that there are avenues to help these people," said Brian Harto of Wheeling, who participated in the walk."I'm down here representing the company. ... We thought we would show our support to such a good cause," said Brian Schamp of Moundville, representing Teletech. "It seems like domestic violence now days is a big issue in society and I think it is important for people to come out and show their support.""I had to make a phone call to the family violence prevention program for a client that I have and the assistance was immediate and very, very beneficial. ... So when they asked me to walk for this cause I said absolutely," said Wheeling resident Kevin Serig, who works in the field of social services.
Even though Serig said his ankles twisted around a lot while walking the course in a pair of 3 inch heals, he said he was just happy to help support the cause.Some of the event participants included: New Martinsville Police Chief Tim Cecil, Wetzel County Sheriff James Hoskins, Terry Long with the Wetzel County Prosecutors Office, New Martinsville Mayor Lucille Blum and several other public officials.In addition to the walk, there was a disc jockey, a bounce house for children, and refreshments. The Wheeling YWCA has outreach offices in Wetzel and Marshall counties, in addition to its Ohio County operation. Plans are already being made for a walk next year, according to program officials.