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Walking the High Heel-a-thon

Soroptimist International of Greater SCV hosts inaugural event to ‘Stomp Out Domestic Violence’

Posted: June 6, 2009 5:30 p.m.
Updated: June 7, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Shelley Hann.

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More than 120 women in high stiletto heels, pumps and high-heeled boots sauntered across the "finish line" May 31 in the inaugural "High Heel-a-thon to Stomp Out Domestic Violence."

The walk was staged by Soroptimist International of Greater Santa Clarita Valley to benefit the Domestic Violence Center of SCV.

As the women (and a few men) entered the Newhall parking lot of the yellow Victorian shops off Lyons Avenue, they were greeted with a vendor village and complimentary mimosas and fruit cups courtesy Annie Schwartz of Fresh, a Newhall boutique. The event was co-chaired by Jodi Stokes and Tora Brown.

"Jodi had this great idea to do a high heel-a-thon to benefit the Domestic Violence Center and I thought we could partner to help ‘stomp out domestic violence,'" said Brown.

Stokes said her two great passions are heels and exercise.

"As a personal trainer I work to empower people to feel strong and capable," Stokes said. "So the whole premise of the event was about the strong, capable women who attended to help those who can't do what we do on a daily basis."

Soroptimist International of Greater SCV, the newest of the two Soroptimist International clubs in the SCV, held a wine walk on Town Center Drive in Valencia in the fall to benefit the Sheila R. Veloz Breast Cancer Center on the campus of Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital in Valencia.

"We thought we'd like to do something to help the merchants in downtown Newhall as well," said Brown.

Soroptimist International of Greater SCV is a volunteer organization for business and professional women that works to improve life for women and girls in the SCV.

The High Heel-a-thon began in Veterans Plaza off Newhall Avenue with an inspirational speech by Miss Newhall Emily Chetner followed by Annette Allen giving the walkers a high heel "warm up" and then the singing of the National Anthem by Georgette Manio followed by the 150-yard walk that ended in the parking lot off Walnut Avenue where Egg Plantation, Fresh, EmroidMe, Propinquities, In Vogue, Yoga Yoga and Results Fitness have storefronts.

"We are all here today, a fantastic group of women, in our fancy heels, to stomp out domestic violence. I'd like to read to you an Italian proverb, ‘Between saying and doing a many a pair of shoes is worn out.' And I will tell you right now I will ruin every pair of heels I own until our voices are heard," said Chetner. "Wearing this crown does not mean I am perfect nor does it mean I am flawless. What it does mean is it gives me a platform to draw attention to causes that are so important. And it gives me the opportunity to work with such wonderful organizations and such amazing people such as yourselves."

"Emily's speech was so wonderful and inspiring," said Stokes. "And Annette's high heel warm up was hilarious."

Stokes said a decision was made to have the High Heel-a-thon be a walk, not a run.

"We didn't want anyone to get hurt, we didn't want any injuries," she said.

Among the vendors participating in the vendor village were Kupcake Kitchen, Christian Threads, Toebling, SCV Leasing, La Via Bella, Outwest Marketing, Stella and Dot, Maria's Italian Deli, Hipz Couture, Sweet Cheeks Bikinis and Fit Girl.

"For a first time event it was so exciting that we had more than 100 walkers," said Dora Zavala, president of Soroptimist International of Greater SCV. "We had a lot of community support from Newhall and the Old Town Newhall Association. We were happy to be able to hold an event where we could bring business to Newhall retailers and to raise awareness for domestic violence."

Soon after the walkers arrived a trio of performers, Annie Horak, Amy Marie Bohannon and Clare Tompkins-Cook, serenaded the participants with a performance of "Princess Time," a song of empowerment for girls and women written by SCV residents Flip Kobler and Dennis Poore.

"We were happy to be able to contribute to this event, which benefits the Domestic Violence Center, and to contribute an important message," said Poore. A video version of the song, created by Poore's daughter Megan Poore, can be found at:

Featured entertainment included EDJ Entertainment and a self defense demonstration by Gavin Espinosa of ATA Karate. Espinosa's 3-year and 4-year-old students also gave a demonstration. The Paseo Club offered a Zumba dancing demo, too, said Stokes.

Brown said when she told friends about the High Heel-a-thon many were hesitant at first.

"When people said, ‘Oh we have to walk in high heels,' I said, ‘Come on, you wear high heels all day ... to work ... to shop in the mall ... to chase after your kids. We're women, we wear high heels - and we get a lot of stuff done," she said.

Soroptimist International of Greater SCV has 89 members and was chartered in 2008.

For more information about Soroptimist International of Greater SCV visit The next Wine Affair will be held Sept. 27.


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