YWCA of Genesee County is calling upon former Buffalo Bills Special Teams player Steve Tasker to help kick off this year’s annual Stiletto & Sneaker Walk. He will give opening remarks, go on the walk and be available for a meet-and-greet session afterward.
The walk is set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 1 at YWCA, 301 North St. The walk is $10 and free for children up to 12.
YW Executive Director Jeanne Walton wanted to incorporate schools, especially athletics, into this year’s events as a fresh way to approach an old and ugly topic. Her main impetus was a well-publicized domestic violence incident by a National Football League player last year, and the lack of response by League officials.
It was an opportunity to turn a negative event around by fully addressing the topic of domestic violence, Walton said.
“Unfortunately, I really didn’t see that happen. So I thought on a local level we could do something in a very special way, and primarily through athletics," she said. "Steve Tasker has been a strong voice of the NFL for many years, both as a player and now as a sportscaster, and he seemed to be a great fit as spokesperson for this important topic.”
Tasker’s appearance is part of a collaboration between Genesee Community College and YWCA. GCC plans to bring more than 200 athletes to participate in this Domestic Violence Awareness Month event as part of the state’s requirements to provide related education.
“We’re excited. Last year the student athletes had a good time,” GCC Dean of Students Jennifer Newell said. “The importance of this topic goes beyond the college campus. I think we’ve got a nice partnership going.”
The college campus, and all nine school districts from Genesee County, are helping to push a YW initiative of #Thurple, a reminder to wear purple, the signature color of domestic violence awareness, on Thursdays throughout October.
The college and many area high school football and other sports teams will also be wearing purple socks during the month as a visual display in support of healthy relationships.
“Because domestic violence is not just a women’s issue, we want the support of men and women alike," Walton said.
Sometimes people living in the middle of a domestic situation don't even recognize that it's atypical from healthier surroundings, said Notre Dame High School Principal Wade Bianco.
That's one reason why he feels strongly that his school should be part of October's events.
"If you tell all the kids that this behavior is not normal, it shouldn’t be happening, then they know what to look out for. It’s good to teach them what’s right and what’s wrong,” Bianco said.
He and leaders of Alexander, Batavia, Byron-Bergen, Elba, Le Roy, Pavilion, Oakfield-Alabama and Pembroke have agreed to support the cause by wearing purple socks and clothing, hosting YW staff for a related assembly, painting pinkies purple, going on the annual Stiletto & Sneaker Walk and/or other activities as ways to raise awareness that domestic violence exists.
Purple socks will be available for purchase at the walk. Other awareness events include YW’s yearly Community Harvest Supper, a showcase of local agriculture’s finest, from 4 to 7 p.m. Oct. 1 at YWCA and Kickstands Up for Domestic Violence Prevention at 1 p.m. Oct. 3 at Stan's Harley-Davidson on West Saile Drive.
The supper is $8 and the motorcycle ride is $15 for the driver and $10 for passenger, and includes a meal afterward. All proceeds will go to YWCA's Domestic Violence Crisis & Prevention Services programs.
For information or tickets, call (585) 343-5808.