PUBLISHED SEPT. 15, 2016
By LOIS KINDLE
Mary & Martha House is kicking off Domestic Violence Awareness Month with a family-friendly walk, run and strut at E.G. Simmons Park Oct. 1.
The 2nd Annual 5K Color Run/Walk offers participants three ways to participate — a one-mile Color Fun Walk for anyone, including families, children and leashed pets; a 5K Color Run for seasoned runners and professionals, featuring chip timing by Big Dawg Runnin’ Inc.; and Stepping Into Her Heels, a new event for men only.
Entrants can register for the Color Fun Walk or 5K Color Run at 8 a.m. the day of the event or by visiting marymarthahouse.org. Serious runners can also register at active.com.
The walk/run begins at 9 a.m. The cost is $25 per person, and includes a Stepping Out T-shirt and free lunch. Medals and trophies will be awarded.
Registration for Stepping Into Her Heels is at 9:30 a.m., and the strut starts an hour later. Male participants of all ages must wear women’s heels and may dress up to add to the fun. There will be prizes for Sassiest Strut, Best Outfit and Distance Walked. Like other entrants, they may also sign up on the Mary & Martha House website.
“The idea of Stepping Into Her Heels is to get men more involved in our event, and we felt it would be a great addition this year,” said Jan Falcione, Mary & Martha House operations manager. “The guys can wear heels of any height; dressing up is optional. I’ll be happy to help them at the Rose Boutique (100 Shell Point Road E., Ruskin) if they want.”
The cost is $25. Lunch is provided.
For Mary & Martha House officials, Stepping Into Her Heels has a twofold purpose.
“In a symbolic way, we hope it builds awareness and helps (participants) empathize with the women in our program who are victims of domestic violence,” said Laurie Herring, Mary & Martha House programs director and event chair. Every dollar raised, she added, “helps these women overcome adverse circumstances and move forward in their lives.”
Walkers, runners and “strutters” are encouraged to get pledges or sponsorships from their families, friends, neighbors or co-workers, and then set goals and try to exceed them, Falcione said.
Event sponsors include The Observer News, Ryan Companies, Keller Williams South Shore, Tampa Bay Times, Sunset Grill at Little Harbor, Parrish Lawn Service, ABC Event Planning and Steve Simmons Concrete.
Last year’s run/walk raised more than $26,000 and had 125 participants. The organization is shooting for more than 200 this year.
All proceeds support Mary & Martha House’s Bridge to Permanent Housing and Employment Readiness programs.
“Our job is to help women in our program determine what barriers they have to gaining and keeping employment, and then address them through the development of individual employment and housing stabilization plans,” Herring said.
Mary & Martha House provides shelter, food and clothing for women in crisis and helps them rebuild their lives. The Ruskin-based 501(c)3 nonprofit organization houses women for up to a year and assists them in transitioning into their own places of residence. It also helps them develop job and life-management skills so they can become employed and live successfully on their own.
To make a donation or for additional information on the event, call 813-645-7874 or visit marymarthahouse.org.