June 28, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Walking a mile in her shoes

Wearing 4-inch go-go boots, Brunswick Hills Township police Sgt. Stephen Klopfenstein, left, and his son Stephen, of Rittman, march through the streets of Akron in high heels in the sixth-annual "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" event to benefit the Rape Crisis Center of Medina and Summit Counties on Friday. (GAZETTE PHOTO BY JENNIFER PIGNOLET)

AKRON — “Real men step up.”

That was the message on Rittman resident Kevin Klopfenstein’s sign as he paraded the streets of Akron on Friday — in hot pink high heels.

More than 300 people — men included — donned their most stunning stilettos, wedges and boots for the sixth-annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event for the Rape Crisis Center of Medina and Summit Counties.

Deb Costa, director of services for the center, said they had 40 teams signed up for the event and raised almost $55,000, doubling totals from previous years.

“This is just a light-hearted, fun way to get involved in the rape crisis movement,” she said.

For Stephanie Krell-Mesek, the event is a chance to say, “I’m not going to hide.”

A victim of sexual assault as a teenager, the 31-year-old Medina resident now volunteers with the Rape Crisis Center.

Her team of 15 walkers and fundraisers came in second place, raising more than $4,000.

“It’s really nice to see the support,” Krell-Mesek said.

Brunswick Hills Township police Sgt. Stephen Klopfenstein, who is also president of the board for the Rape Crisis Center, brought four generations of his family to the event.

Klopfenstein and his adult sons, Kevin, Stephen and Brandon, all dressed for the occasion, the sergeant leading the way with his jeans tucked into 4-inch, white go-go boots.

“Nobody’s harassed me about it or anything,” Klopfenstein said between sighs of relief while taking off the boots after the walk.

He said his family has been involved with the Akron event every year.

“It’s important to me to make sure there is a voice for women involved in rapes,” he said.

The younger Stephen Klopfenstein, who gave up his heels to one of his brothers after he suffered a “wardrobe malfunction” and broke the heel off one shoe, said deciding to participate was easy. Finding shoes, not so much.

“We all have giant feet,” he said. “That’s probably the biggest obstacle for doing this.”

Contact Jennifer Pignolet at (330) 721-4063 or jpignolet@medina-gazette.com.