In a strange break-in at Latimer House’s storage unit April 16, 100 pairs of high heels in men’s sizes were stolen (along with Christmas gifts and decorations). The large-sized high heels — ranging in sizes 11-16 — had an estimated value of $5,000, and they were imperative to the fourth annual Men in Heels Race.
The race pits men wearing high heels duct-taped to their feet in a team race to raise both funds and awareness for domestic violence and sexual assault. Despite the theft, the race is still scheduled for Sept. 19, thanks to generous donations from local businesses and individuals.
According to Latimer House fundraising coordinator Jennifer Allen, gifts of shoes and money have poured in over the summer, with 85 pairs of large-sized high heels now in Latimer House’s possession.
“That’s a great amount,” she said. “We must have about 30-40 pairs on people’s feet at once.”
Grand Junction’s own Brown’s Shoe Fit donated many pairs of high heels up to shoe size 12, plus citizens from around the county turned up with close to 30 pairs of heels in sizes 9-12.
“Then we ended up working with a company that sells large sizes 13-17 in California called Exotic High Heels,” Allen said. “They gave it to us at a very discounted price — an $800 discount.”
In the end, the Latimer House ended up spending $900 to replace its most commonly needed (and most difficult to find) sizes, from 13-15. Financial support from the community ameliorated the nonprofit’s financial strain caused by the pricey (and totally weird) shoe theft, especially since it wasn’t covered by insurance.
The Men in Heels Race normally brings in $10,000-$12,000 yearly for Hilltop’s Latimer House, a Grand Junction-based nonprofit which provides much-needed emergency support for victims of domestic violence.
Allen noted that 18 teams of five men are currently signed up, with each group fundraising a minimum of $250 (though more is expected).
“All the funds raised go back to Latimer House services,” Allen said. “We can spend it where we need it most. It goes directly back to clients and community. And it not only raises money, but it raises community awareness and support.”
“Last year we only had 12 teams,” Allen added. “We are really, really excited about the expansion this year of the race.”
Eric Whiting, a 25-year-old Grand Junction resident, will participate in this year’s race (for a second time) as part of a team of Ace Hardware (Clifton) employees.
“The Latimer House is a dear organization to our hearts,” Whiting said. “The race is a fun way to tell the community about a serious issue.”
Whiting also said the Ace Hardware team hopes to raise more than $2,000 for the September event.
“We started collecting money every Saturday at the registers, asking people if they’d like to make a donation,” he added. “Events like that are important.”
The Latimer House is located at 1003 Main St. in Grand Junction, and the phone number is 970-241-0324. For more information about its services, visit www.htop.org/adult/lh.