FAIRFIELD — Hundreds of area residents committed to ending sexual abuse and violence will march in support of victims and survivors on April 27 during The Center for Family Justice’s seventh annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event.

For the seventh consecutive year, the event will be led by its chairman, former Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara, who will walk the one mile route along Fairfield’s Post Road wearing a towering pair of red high heel pumps to show his support for victims and survivors of sexual violence. This year, MacNamara will slip on his heels in his new role as Director of Public Safety & Government Affairs at Fairfield’s Sacred Heart University.

The walk, CFJ’s signature event during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, has grown from just a few hundred walkers when it began in 2012 to an important community happening which last year drew more than 1,350 walkers to downtown Fairfield.

This year’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes sponsor is Aquarion Water. It is presented by CFJ in collaboration with the Fairfield Police Department and CFJ’s White Ribbon Task Force, a group of male community leaders committed to ending domestic and sexual violence.

Proceeds from this year’s walk will help support Camp HOPE America-Connecticut, the first trauma-informed summer camp and year-long mentoring program in New England for children impacted by domestic and sexual violence.

This year’s Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event will include delegations from the police departments in the six communities CFJ serves, including Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford and Trumbull. The walk will also include participants and leaders from several local corporations and area high schools and colleges.

“Our walk has grown and evolved into a fun, but powerful way to send a message that men also care about ending gender-based violence,” said Debra A. Greenwood, President & CEO of The Center for Family Justice. “Each year, we have seen a growing awareness in the communities we serve that we all have role to play in breaking the cycles of sexual violence.”

Greenwood thanked MacNamara for his continued support of the effort. “We’re also thrilled that under Gary MacNamara’s continued leadership the walk has grown into such a meaningful display of community spirit and activism.”

MacNamara said that after retiring from his role as Fairfield’s Chief of Police last October, many people asked him if he would continue as Walk a Mile chairman. “But I didn’t lead the walk because I was Fairfield Police Chief,” he explains. “I walk because it is important to show support for victims and survivors and to encourage the prevention of sexual assault in our communities. The question should really never be why I walk; it should be, “Why don’t you walk with us?”’

Founded in California in 2002 by community activist Frank Baird, Walk a Mile began in support of a local sexual assault crisis center. It has since grown into a world-wide movement that includes the participation of tens of thousands of adults and children. While the Fairfield event is noteworthy for the role men play in raising awareness, anyone is welcome and encouraged to participate or form a fundraising team to benefit CFJ.

This year’s Fairfield event begins promptly at 8 a.m. at the Fairfield Train Station’s Mill Plain Road entrance. Registration begins by 7:30 a.m. The walk will conclude at Fairfield’s Old Town Hall, where there will be brief closing ceremonies.

This event takes place rain or shine.

To discuss team or individual participation and sponsorship opportunities please contact CFJ’s Chief Development Officer Robert Hojnacki at (203) 334-6154 ext. 121 or rhojnacki@centerforfamilyjustice.org of Development & Events Coordinator Chalae Satawhite at csatawhite@centerforfamilyjustice.org

To register for the walk, please visit centerforfamilyjustice.org

The Center for Family Justice Inc. (formerly The Center for Women and Families of Eastern Fairfield County Inc.), brings all domestic, sexual and child abuse services - crisis intervention, police, prosecutors, civil/legal providers, counseling - under one roof, in its headquarters in Bridgeport.. Together, it works to break the cycle of violence by helping those in crisis restore their lives.