Walk a Mile against violence

Stratford police chief promotes awareness

Stratford police Chief Patrick Ridenhour leads a group walking a mile to promote awareness of violence against women. John Kovach photo.

Stratford police Chief Patrick Ridenhour was among the men who walked from the Fairfield downtown train station to Fairfield Town Hall as part of “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” raising awareness of violence against women.

The April 27 event was the first “Walk a Mile” event held by the Center for Women and Families of Eastern Fairfield County, Executive Director Deb Greenwood said. “Walk a Mile,” a national program, has been held in this area, but not by the Center for Women and Families.

It is expected to become an annual event in one of the six towns served by the Center for Women and Families: Stratford, Fairfield, Bridgeport, Easton, Monroe, and Trumbull.

Police chiefs and officers from all six towns participated in the walk, though not all wore women’s shoes for the walk. Ridenhour said, “It’s important for our residents to know that we take this and all crimes of violence very seriously. We are happy to work with other public and private agencies to bring awareness and education to this problem and hopefully reduce incidences of it in the future.”

The opportunity to hold “Walk a Mile” arose through a grant from Leadership Greater Bridgeport, a program offered by the Bridgeport Regional Business Council. The grant was earmarked toward a local “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.”

April was chosen for Fairfield’s “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” to focus attention on Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Child Abuse Awareness Month. The Center for Women and Families holds vigils in October to recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The largest delegation in the Walk represented the Delta Tau Delta fraternity at Sacred Heart University.

Student Joe Giffune said the fraternity’s philanthropy platform is working to eliminate violence against women.

Delta Tau Delta President Kyle Beam said the walk helped kick off the fraternity’s week working to fight violence on campus. Events at SHU include a bonfire, guest speakers and a Dance Dance Revolution competition to raise money for women’s causes.

“Next year we’re hoping to get all of Greek life involved,” Beam said of the walk.

State Rep. Brenda Kupchick (R-132nd District) was among those saying “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” should become an annual event.

“There’s a lot of energy,” said Kupchick, who has worked with the Center for Women and Families for about eight years.

On the steps of Town Hall, Blumenthal continued to campaign for gun control.

Dawn Hennessey shared her story of learning her son was a victim of sexual molestation at the hands of former Penn State football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, and the family’s efforts to recover.

Domestic violence survivor Patty Collins read a poem, which Greenwood publicly asked to post on the Center for Women and Families website, describing the life of a woman trapped in domestic violence.

“Would you have the courage,” Collins asked in the poem, “to walk a mile in her shoes?”

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