This past weekend, we hosted our 11th annual #WalkBlackburn event. More than 600 participants gathered at St. Clair Park in Greensburg to WALK a MILE in Their HER His Our Shoes. We had fantastic weather, an impressive turnout, and an amazing morning of learning, raising awareness, and coming together as a community.
It was especially great to be back together again for our first in-person Walk since 2019. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic left us with the difficult decision to cancel the event. In 2021, we held a virtual Walk. This year, we were thrilled to be able to see so many people as we gathered and walked in downtown Greensburg.
On the stage, we hosted a variety of activities that were created in collaboration with Seton Hill University’s Art Therapy Department, Greensburg Salem High School Art Department, elementary schools of Westmoreland County, Blackburn Center’s Education team and survivors of violence. This included the “Empathy Experience,” which was a powerful opportunity to hear survivors’ stories and to walk in their shoes. Our FAME group also staffed a table where they gave men an opportunity to explore ways they can be allies in our work to end gender-based violence.
Elsewhere in the park, walkers could fuel up on coffee and donuts at our breakfast tent, generously provided by Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Giant Eagle, and Shop ’n Save. They could also have their team picture taken by Skysight Photography — all while enjoying music provided by DJ Little Larry Joe. You can check out all of the Walk pictures on our Facebook page! Be sure to also check out the amazing Walk video by Capture Avenue Productions.
At 10 a.m., we all gathered to listen to speakers Rick Hall, head coach of the Seton Hill women’s volleyball team, Dr. David Von Schlichten of Seton Hill University, and Dr. Tim Holler of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. They explained the purpose of the Walk, led us in a moment of silence for victims and survivors of violence, and talked about how each of us can play a role in ending gender-based violence.
And with that, the Walk began! Our walkers (and a few runners!) marched down Maple Avenue, showing off their shoes — and their commitment to ending gender-based violence. Walkers carried signs and navigated through downtown Greensburg, with help from our Walk marshals. There was no typical walker: we had everyone from babies in strollers to high school and college students to parents and grandparents and even an entire football team.
This year, we welcomed many groups who came out to support the Walk. Our top teams for 2022 were:
Most participants: University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg
Most money raised: First Commonwealth Bank
We thank each and every person who came to the Walk, joined a team, walked as an individual, or donated to support our mission. We are also incredibly appreciative of the dozens of volunteers who helped make the Walk a reality.
Of course, the opportunity to raise awareness and give back to your community doesn’t have to end with the Walk. You can donate to or volunteer for Blackburn Center throughout the year. You can also schedule an educational or training program for your school, workplace or organization. Finally, you can take what you learned at the Walk and put it into practice — working to be an everyday ally in the fight against gender-based violence!