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In the summer of 2013, Curtis Hargrove walked from his home in Cold Lake to Edmonton. He made the nearly 300-kilometre journey in ruby-red high heels.

 “When I started, they were four-inch heels but by the time I was done, they were about two inches,” Hargrove says. The less-than-ideal walking shoes gave Hargrove blisters and cut into his heels during the nine-day journey, but it was all for a good cause: raising money and awareness for YWCA WALK A MILE IN HER SHOES®. And it worked. Hargrove made headlines around the province, raising more than $7,400 — the highest one-time amount ever raised by an individual — for YWCA Edmonton’s programs to help women and families fleeing domestic violence.

This year, Hargrove will strap on those worn, well-loved heels once again to take part in the 10th anniversary YWCA WALK A MILE IN HER SHOES®, taking place Sept. 11 at the Federal Building plaza near the Legislature.

The basic idea behind Walk a Mile is simple, explains YWCA Edmonton CEO Leslie Allen: “We walk in uncomfortable shoes to show empathy for women and families forced to live with much worse.”

Everyone is welcome to join in the walk and while the YWCA will have more than 600 pairs of high heels on hand, they are by no means mandatory. “Whoever would like to take part is welcome and can wear whatever shoes they like,” says Allen.

Funds raised by the walkers will go towards providing affordable counselling for families who need it, support for women and children in crisis shelters, and violence prevention and recovery programs, like GirlSpace® and Lakeside Haven. Eighty per cent of YWCA Counselling Services clients report positive changes in their lives after receiving services.

“At this type of event, you see how much people really want to support women and families,” says Hargrove, who will be marching alongside other top Walk a Mile fundraisers. “When everyone comes together, you see what community really means.”

It’s that community spirit that the YWCA wants to highlight at this year’s Walk a Mile, especially considering how far the event has come over the last decade.

“The year we started, we had 160 people register for Walk a Mile; last year, we had 475,” says Allen, “Every year it’s grown, and we’ve raised more than $1 million for our programs along the way.” To make the festivities extra special, this year’s Walk a Mile will feature a live band and an after party at The Station on Jasper.

While the atmosphere at Walk a Mile will be one of celebration, those walking will not lose sight of the event’s goal—keeping women and families safe.

“Everyone deserves to be safe in their home,” says Allen. “We need everyone’s help to make that happen.”

To learn more about Walk a Mile, donate, or register as a fundraiser, visit walkamileedmonton.com.

This story was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s sponsored content division, on behalf of YWCA Edmonton.