Men in Heels Race support grows in Grand Valley
WHAT: Fifth annual Men in Heels Race
WHEN: 6 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 25
WHERE: Corner of Sixth and Main streets, Grand Junction
COST: Free to watch
Ken Brownlee, a Grand Junction Lions Club member and candidate for Mesa County assessor, has worn a handle-bar mustache since 2000. Now the former Navy man will dye his ‘stache in support of Latimer House and debut his new look at the upcoming Men in Heels Race at 6 p.m. Sept. 25. The event will be held during Grand Junction’s last Farmers’ Market at the corner of Sixth and Main streets.
“I have never had hair dye on any part of my body,” he said. “I figured my family and Navy friends would pay to see me have a dyed mustache, so why not do it for a cause.”
According to Brownlee, a mustache color will be determined by how much money is raised. Options include pink, orange and blue, rainbow or purple. All money will go directly to Hilltop’s Latimer House — a local safe house for domestic violence victims.
“I don’t have a tolerance for domestic abuse and it’s a great cause to get involved in to raise money for,” he said.
Brownlee is part of a group of more than 100 men who will race to support the Latimer House, compete for trophies, and the glory to say they can run the fastest in high heels. Teams are also competing for most funds raised. Local business teams include FCI Constructors, Alpine Bank and Walgreens.
“It personally impressed me that most guys not only get into the race, but they see why it matters,” Hilltop’s communications manager Mike Green said.
Last year, teams raised more than $32,000 for the local nonprofit even though it was almost canceled. In a bizarre break-in to a Latimer House storage area in April of last year, 100 pairs of high heels in men’s sizes were stolen (along with Christmas gifts and decorations). Event organizers were forced to scramble to replace to large-sized high heels, which are considered a specialty item.
“We have managed to replace all the shoes,” Green said, noting that this year’s Men in Heels race “is back and will be better than ever.”
Event organizers hope to raise at least $40,000 this year, which will go to direct services at Latimer House, like keeping the doors and the shelter open.
“Most communities know they have a shelter, but no one wants to know they have to use it,” said Lonnie Chavez, a Men in Heels race founder and a Grand Junction Police Department sergeant. “The race helps break down those barriers.”
Chavez helped start the race five years ago as part of his involvement in Grand Junction’s Domestic Violence Task Force.
Latimer House, as part of Hilltop, is a local emergency shelter for women, children, and men to go to if involved in domestic violence and sexual assault. It also provides a 24-hour crisis line, counseling, legal advocacy and more, all free of charge. Just last year, the 30-year-old shelter provided a temporary home for more than 240 individuals and received 2,526 calls to the crisis line.
According to Hilltop’s website, “domestic violence is any act or threatened act of harm that is used to maintain power and control over another person whom an intimate relationship is shared — regardless of their legal status.”
Free Press editor Caitlin Row contributed to this article.
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