Fraternities raise heels, awareness
By Melissa Brown
The sidewalks of sorority row were crowded Thursday afternoon as community members, school staff and sorority sisters gathered to watch fraternity brothers run, walk and stumble along in high heels for Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, a philanthropy event sponsored by Alpha Chi Omega that was organized to raise awareness of domestic violence.
“We really wanted to raise money for the cause and awareness of domestic violence to benefit Turning Point, a local shelter for women and children,” said Mary Leigh Hatchett, Alpha Chi philanthropy chair and organizer of the event. “I think domestic violence is really a ‘behind closed doors’ issue and we just want to raise awareness.”
Hatchett said more than 17 fraternities signed up and the event raised around $2,100 in entry fees, though it has potential to raise more with donations from sorority members.
Members of Alpha Chi were encouraged to make signs and offer support from the sidelines as fraternity brothers participated in the race. The signs featured facts and statistics about domestic violence, such as ‘78% of women have experienced some form of sexual aggression’ and ‘Women aged 19-29 reported more violence by intimates than any other group.’
“We’re really excited [about the event] because it’s a great way to bring awareness about something that so many people experience,” said Leah Leonard, a freshman pre-dental student who stood on the sidelines with a sign.
Fraternity participants gathered outside the Alpha Chi house shortly before 4 p.m., holding or wearing everything from modest black pumps to four-inch plastic stilettos. Brothers jammed their sock-clad feet into pumps and heels as some resorted to duck-taping the shoes on. Students gathered, excitedly snapping pictures before the walk began as a DJ played on the corner.
“I’m ready to rock heels like a champ,” Parker McGee, a freshman member of Delta Sigma Phi, said before the event began.
Brothers from Alpha Kappa Lambda arrived dressed to impress in sharp blazers, shirts, ties and colorful women’s running shorts. A group of students from Lamda Sigma Phi also coordinated their outfits, painting up in purple and white.
“I ordered size 16 shoes – ruby red – from Amazon specifically for the event,” said Travis Hatt, a junior majoring in management and information sciences and a member of Lamda Sigma Phi.
Gorman Houston, a Phi Gamma Delta freshman who arrived at the event in a white tulle evening gown, echoed the others’ enthusiasm.
“We went the whole nine yards,” he said. “It’s definitely a great event to help support and raise awareness for the cause.”
Acting director of Turning Point, Belinda Jones, came to the event and spoke before the start of the race, reminding the crowd of the impact domestic violence has on society.
“Any time we can get the word out about domestic violence is a great opportunity,” Jones said.
Turning Point, a shelter in Tuscaloosa, can always use new volunteers and even offers volunteer training for those interested, she said.
“It’s an amazing cause, because it’s something that needs to be brought up and people need to be aware of,” said Samantha Romo, a freshman majoring in psychology.