Men march to help bring an end to domestic violence

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Saturday, September 26, 2009
— We men like to be heroes, and every year, the YWCA gives us a chance.

Yes, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes has come again. It’s that wonderful day when men of all makes and models can wear high heels and march publicly in a nonjudgmental environment, all for a good cause: the fight against the ugly wound in our society we call domestic violence.

And that means it’s time for the third annual Frankie awards, my tribute to these brave males who do the right thing by looking so wrong. Here we go:

Best comeback: To an unidentified woman in a Harley-Davidson sweatshirt, when she overheard 7-year-old Ethan Wangerin remark: “I don’t like ’em. They rub against my toes.”

“Welcome to my world, son,” she said.

Kutter Harley-Davidson-Buell gave up its facilities for the even this year, by the way.

Young blood award: To Ethan, of course, for walking in glittery yellow toeless shoes.

Frou-frou award: to Ryan Brehm, whose heels were decorated by a niece who attached beads, bells and pink-and-black faux fur to his footwear. And if you looked close, you’d see “hot momma” spelled out around the heel.

Best grimace: Mike Payne, president of the Janesville Lions Club, a first-timer whose face spelled out the agony of his feet. “My calves are feeling it already after 10 minutes,” Payne said.

Innovator award: Bob Jessie, a General Motors retiree and carpenter who not only wore a wig, skirt and feather boa, he glued sandpaper to the soles and screwed wooden cleats to the sides of his heels to keep from tipping over.

Jessie was protecting his ankles, one of which he “messed up” in Vietnam and one that a truck ran over.

“I’m not taking any chances,” he said.

Glutton for punishment: Carl Howard, who for the second consecutive year wore a pair of skyscraper Plexiglas heels that are too small for him. Last year, he was bleeding by the end and needed two people to drag him across the finish line. This time, he wore leggings for ankle support, but this reporter winced just to see him walk, and that was after the first 50 yards of the mile-long march.

Best wig: Mark Fuller, UW-Rock County math professor who sported a curly blonde number that was sort of Dolly Parton-meets-Peter Frampton.

Best cleavage: Steve Kerchoff, a retired Janesville teacher, who wore a maroon, grey and black patterned top with black sequins defining his décolletage. Somehow, the hairy chest enhanced the effect.

Over the hill: Steve Huth of Janesville School District’s central office, who not only wore flats but sported a Brett Favre jersey.

Best quip: Milton Police Chief Jerry Schuetz, about wearing heels: “When you’re 5-5 and three quarters, you take advantage of that opportunity.”

Better the second time: City council member Bill Truman, who topped last year’s getup with a women’s size 16 set of ruby slippers and a Dorothy of Oz outfit to match, complete with wig and a stuffed Toto.

Truman’s T-shirt listed all his sponsors on the front and a slogan on the back: “There’s no place like Janesville.” Props to wife Jackie Truman for getting the ensemble together.

Zamboni award: To 10 members of the Janesville Jets hockey team who volunteered for the event. Jet Jared Bertsch said the heels thing was nothing new to many Jets, as all rookies they were required to “dress up like girls” for the team’s rookie dinner.

“We’re happy to help out,” Bertsch said.

Two-wheelers: Hogs in Heels, the motorcyclists who plied the march route in heels on their Harleys.

Best promoter: Jon Wangerin, who has been tireless in getting the word out. He even wore platform shoes to a city council meeting while asking for the council’s endorsement.

Wangerin said last year’s 82 walkers raised $35,000, so he was hoping that the 120 or so who signed up this year might put them near $50,000.

Don’t touch me, I might fall: Jefferson School Principal Kurt Krueger, who looked unsteady but determined in his glittering heels. Asked where he got his shoes, he said: “They appeared in my office that way.” Props to teachers Jeff Halverson and Dan Kaster for providing the shoes and their students, Emily and Ethan Wangerin, for getting Kaster and Halverson involved.

Man in uniform: Mike Rundle, recently retired from the Janesville Fire Department, who got permission from the chief to wear the dress uniform one more time.

“I told him he might have to have an ambulance standing by,” Rundle quipped.

Mr. World: Karl Dommershausen, who was unrecognizable, wrapped from head to foot in something resembling a Middle Eastern woman’s garb. He said he wanted to remind everyone that domestic violence affects women worldwide.

Turn that smile upside down: Janesville Police Chief Dave Moore, who gave the merry-makers pause to consider what the march is all about. Moore graphically spelled out the evil of domestic violence:

A woman’s ex-boyfriend entered her residence this year and attacked her in her bed. She woke to his fists beating her face. He slammed her against the wall, dragged her by the hair, broke a picture frame over her head and choked her into unconsciousness. Then he spat in her face and urinated on her.

The woman didn’t want to identify her attacker at first, but after the officer told her about the YWCA’s domestic violence services and the law’s 72-hour no-contact order, she gave up the name, and police arrested him.

Last updated: 11:17 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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