Photo By: Gillian’s Place

Gillian’s Place is gearing up to host their biggest fundraiser of the year once again – Walk a Mile in HER Shoes. The event gives community members an opportunity to not only support the shelter, but also stand against gender-based violence in the region.

Walk a Mile in HER Shoes is an internationally-held fundraising event that sees individuals walking for one mile, traditionally in pink and wearing high-heeled shoes, in an effort to raise awareness for gender-based violence. 

Now in its 16th year in the Niagara Region, the event has raised over $1.1 million for the cause. Last year, despite lower participation numbers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gillian’s Place was able to raise over $105,000 and exceed their fundraising goal. This year, the fundraising goal is set at $120,000. 

“We initially had a very large fundraising goal for the event last year and wanted to make it our most successful yet, then the pandemic hit so we actually decided to lower the goal. It was challenging, but we ended up raising over $100,000, which exceeded the target we set, when donations closed,” said Graeme Dargavel, Manager of Community Development at Gillian’s Place. “The demands on our service right now are at an all-time high and we really need support which is why we’ve set a big fundraising goal of $120,000 for this walk.” 

This year, Gillian’s Place is hosting the Walk a Mile in HER Shoes event under the theme ‘Walk a Mile – Your Style’. The event builds on last year’s walk that was held in a virtual format and transitioned the event from a primarily men’s march to one where all community members are encouraged and invited to walk. 

Walk a Mile – Your Style will be held virtually on Saturday, Oct. 16 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Community members can either register for the event as an individual or as part of a team, with adults and adult teams required to set a minimum fundraising goal of $100 and youth required to set a minimum fundraising goal of $25. 

“Last year, with the pandemic, and for our 15th anniversary, we knew that we needed the event, but we also knew that we couldn’t just rely on men in our community to walk,” said Dargavel. “The pandemic has led to horrible escalations of gender-based violence worldwide, and we knew that there were a lot of dangerous and heartbreaking scenarios happening right here in Niagara. So, we pivoted, really quickly, encouraged everyone to walk that year and turned it into a big family event. I think we’ve learned a lot from that event and it has certainly informed how we have chosen to present this year’s walk and future walks going forward.” 

Participants are encouraged to share their walk on social media with the hashtag #WAMNiagara and submit photos via email to Gillian’s Place for a chance to win a $100 HomeSense gift card. Individuals and teams who have raised $100 or more prior to the date of the walk will receive a special welcome package delivered to their doorstep. This package contains a lawn sign, t-shirt, water bottle, $10 grocery gift card, and more. While Gillian’s Place will continue to accept donations on and after the event’s date, funds raised during that time will not go towards eligibility to receive the welcome package.

Beyond hosting Walk a Mile in HER Shoes, Gillian’s Place operates a 34-bed emergency shelter in St. Catharines for women and children who have experienced abuse. The organization also provides free and confidential support services to survivors of gender-based violence in the community. These services are able to be offered thanks to donations and funds raised from events like Walk a Mile in HER Shoes.

To register for and find out more information about Gillian’s Place and the Walk a Mile in HER Shoes event in Niagara visit here. Those with immediate concerns or who are in need of emergency support can call or text Gillian’s Place’s 24-hour support line at 905-684-8331.