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Perham area advocates raise awareness of domestic violence

Mile-walkers, from left to right, were: Samantha Lange, Kim Anderson-Moen, Becki Jordan, Lori Hanson, Jeanine Thompson, Mary Ulschmid, Michelle Ulschmid, Jay Ulschmid, and Karry Spinar. They posed for this picture after finishing their trek through Perham. Joe Bowen/FOCUS

Flanked by his wife and supporters, Jay Ulschmid walked down Main Street in Perham, confidently wearing a pair of women’s black flats in place of his regular work boots.

“They keep slipping,” he said after stumbling momentarily.

Organized by the Perham office of Someplace Safe, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is a fundraiser that seeks to promote awareness of domestic violence against women by asking male volunteers to literally walk one mile in women’s shoes.

Someplace Safe is a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving victims and survivors of domestic violence in western and central Minnesota.

This is at least the event’s sixth year in Perham, Someplace Safe Crime Victim Advocate and event organizer Karry Spiner said while preparing for the walk last Friday.

Spiner, who took over the position in October from a long term advocate, discussed the organization’s fundraising strategy: “In the past, we’ve targeted individuals, but this year we went out into the community. This year we have some sponsors” such as the Perham Lions and Women of Focus, a civic organization similar to the Lions and Rotary Club.

All of the shoes are donated by various thrift stores and sympathetic organizations. The most popular brand is LaDame, which makes women’s shoes in men’s sizes, said Spiner.

Previous walks in Fergus Falls and Morris have seen entire football teams participate, said Director of Development Becki Jordan, although most of the heels didn’t survive the ordeal.

Someplace Safe’s next planned event will take place in October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.