Men take to their heels for YWCA charity event
At almost six foot 6, Jeff Melanson is tall enough for the average bloke, but in women's high heel shoes, The Banff Centre president is willing to risk the threat of a big tumble to raise funds to end domestic violence in the Bow Valley.
Melanson will be one of hopefully many male volunteers participating in the annual Walk A Mile In Her Shoes fundraising event put on by the Banff YWCA, where men will slip into a pair of heels and walk down Banff Avenue in an effort to stop family violence and keep women and their children safe.
"I would do anything to support the YWCA and if they want me to wear women's shoes and raise money that way, that's how I'll do it," Melanson said. "The Y plays a significant role in Banff and it's worked to help address family issues in the Bow Valley that are really important."
The fundraising event takes place on Sept. 14 at Central Park. This is the fourth year the Banff YWCA has hosted the walk, which in the past has raised over $130,000 with a total of 468 male participants.
This year, organizers are hopeful the event will raise close to $60,000 and feature around 150 walkers. YWCA marketing and communications manager Steve Woollard said all funds raised go to funding services provided at the women's shelter.
Because domestic violence is the single largest women's health issue in Canada, according to the YWCA's website, Woollard is anticipating a little extra funding this year to go towards a prevention program where they "could actually start to break the cycle," of domestic violence, he said.
With 133 participants last year and just under $50,000 raised, the Y is confident both older and younger members of the community will show their support for the fundraiser.
"There was huge amounts of community involvement with lots of teams from different companies and organizations," Woollard said of last year's event. "We also had lots of involvement from younger people in the community like the Banff Hockey Academy and the Canmore Eagles."
Although the event features only males in heels, the YWCA points out that women also play a big part in the event by encouraging and challenging participants to register as well as help fundraise.
The funds the walk has garnered over the years might be given a significant boost this year, as not only has Melanson vowed to wear heels, he's also committed a donation of $2,500 from The Banff Centre if other Bow Valley businesses and residents do the same.
"We are challenging our fellow business owners and employers of staff to invest in this worthwhile cause," the president said. "By taking a leadership stake, hopefully we can encourage others to come along as well."
Melanson and the YWCA selected some businesses to issue the matching challenge to. The list includes the Banff Springs Hotel, CIBC, Caribou Properties, Brewster's Mountain Lodge, BMO, Sunshine Village, Bow Valley Credit Union, Banff Lake Louise Tourism, Bow Valley Realty and Gibson Family Dentistry.
The YWCA has set up a new website for the walk that includes information regarding fundraising and sponsorship as well as details for those wishing to volunteer. Visit www.banffwalkamile.ca for more information.