Purchase photos

Wobbly walkers

3/14/2014

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

Sophomore Ricky Hockett said his toes hurt. Classmate Andrew Hess commented "he put a hurtin' on" his shoes.

John Montgomery said the majority of the male students who walked a mile in high heels Thursday afternoon would be feeling it today.

And he should know.

As a former instructor in the leadership studies department at Fort Hays State University, Montgomery participated in several "Walk A Mile In Her Shoes," a domestic violence awareness event sponsored by fraternities on campus.

Now a teacher and coach at Thomas More Prep-Marian High School, Montgomery thought, "Why not bring something like this to TMP?"

Montgomery got positive feedback from the students in his senior leadership class, who planned the event named "Walk the High Road, Building Healthy Relationships."

Approximately 60 boys signed up to participate in the walk around Victory Road on the TMP campus.

Part of the fun for the participants was finding women's shoes big enough to fit them, and most didn't come from their mom's or sister's closet.

"Hers wouldn't fit," senior Taylor Wasinger said of his mom's shoes as he put on his heels he bought at a local store.

Senior Jeffrey Richmeier's pain was visible by his limping. He said his feet "really hurt," but knows pain isn't always visible.

"It makes you think about when you hurt people, a lot of times you can't see their pain, but it's there," said Richmeier, a member of the leadership class that helped plan the event.

In an attempt to get everyone involved, the leadership class added an event for girls to participate in.

Wearing heavy shoes or boots and carrying backpacks, the 70 girls had to lug around as many as 16 canned goods that were placed in their bags at the various stations along the route where they also were shown negative comments on cards. The girls then got to drop off the cans one at a time on the second lap, where positive comments appeared on signs, making their load lighter.

"It shows that one negative comment or act might not make a difference, but that they can build up," Montgomery said, "and that positive comments also have a cumulative effect."

Hess kicked his shoes high in the air as he crossed the finish line, locked arm in arm with Hockett and another classmate, Ryan Ruder.

It was symbolic of victory for a successful event on Victory Road.

"There were so many things to take into consideration, what to plan for if something went wrong," said senior Kayla Walker, one of the organizers. "We were lucky. Everything kind of fell into place."

Part of the reason for that, she admitted, was because "we all talked and communicated. If someone needed something done, everybody just helped out. It was a really good experience."

Montgomery was pleased with the entire event, from start to finish.

"I thought they did a tremendous job, from planning to pulling it off," said Montgomery, who was joined on site by several faculty members, including Principal Kathy Taylor.

Taylor said she enjoyed seeing the determination of the boys not to be defeated by the shoes, no matter how unstable it made their gait.

Most of the guys were walking around in socks or barefoot afterward, but Taylor noticed one student making his way across the asphalt parking lot in high heels.

"Ryan, you can take those off now," Taylor called to junior Ryan Schippers as he teetered and tottered his way onto the sidewalk leading into the school.

"Oh, no," he said. "It's not a victory 'til I get back in the classroom."