ELKO — Elko area men and women put on their heels and walked over a mile Sept. 18 to raise awareness of domestic violence against women.
The White Ribbon Campaign’s “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event was coordinated locally by PACE Coalition’s Hispanic Working Group and sponsored by Barrick Gold Corp.
“We’re here to show support for the folks that are trying to live without violence in their communities,” said Barrick’s Cortez Hills Operations Support Manager George Fennemore.
Several Barrick employees, as well as PACE volunteers and community members, took the White Ribbon pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women.
“The shoes are a visual show of people taking the pledge,” White Ribbon Project Manager Trevor Mayoh said.
White Ribbon is the largest network of men and boys in the world, he said.
The walk kicked off the Stephanie’s Last at Bat Adult & Coed Softball Tournament, which honors Stephanie Gonzalez, who was killed in 2011. Her estranged husband, Eduardo Estrada-Puentes, is in jail facing a charge of open murder.
Lidia Cortes, the victim's mother, said she was grateful for the support and hoped to make the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” the first of many.
“Hopefully next year we’ll get even more women involved and men and young kids,” she said.
Maria Anderson with Barrick’s community relations said her company has also sponsored two walks in Winnemucca and one in Battle Mountain. This is the first “Walk a Mile” event in Elko, and Barrick hopes to “create that awareness and prevention of gender-based violence,” she said.
Barrick also took the event out to its Turquoise Ridge Joint Venture, Goldstrike and Cortez Hills mines.
“There’s been a great response and wonderful support,” Anderson said. “Sometimes it just takes one person to put on the heels and others join in.”
Mark Miller, environmental manager for Cortez, brought out his pink heels that he found online.
“I’ve done it in Winnemucca and Battle Mountain and it doesn’t feel any better,” Miller said, laughing. “It hurts.”
Still, Miller agreed it was for a great cause, and said he hoped the event comes back to Elko.
“Anything we can do to raise awareness is a plus,” Miller said.
Deacon Franklin Martinez with St. Joseph’s Catholic Church attended the event, carrying the White Ribbon sign alongside his wife, Mary Ann, who is with PACE Coalition.
“You have to pay attention with every step,” Martinez said while sporting a pair of striped heeled shoes. “... Now I know what she’s walking through.”
Prior to the walk, which began at the Herrera Adult Softball Complex, a few speakers were invited to address the group.
“All men have a role to play in preventing violence against women,” Mayoh said.
While not all men are perpetrators, they still have a responsibility and a duty as a role model, he said.
Mayor Chris Johnson said that the event was a good example of educating about domestic violence.
“We have to be careful in this society because we have a real tendency to not socialize as we should,” Johnson said. “... We need to be aware of our responsibility in order to be a successful community.”
Committee Against Domestic Violence Executive Director Yvette Waters began by telling those gathered a story about a girl who wondered if she could do anything she wanted to. This girl fell in love with someone who didn’t love her back, and that man eventually tried to kill her.
“That’s my story,” Waters said.
It’s become her mission to combat domestic violence and make a difference in others’ lives.
“Together we’re gonna make a difference and we’re gonna end violence against women,” she said.