Since 2012, the Family Crisis Center Inc. has been working to raise awareness among the people in its service area to domestic and sexual violence through signature “Red Shoe” events leading up to the finale “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.” Many who have seen their male co-workers hobbling about in red high-heels as they raise funds for the cause have been persuaded to help, which has allowed the programs offered through the FCC to touch the lives of many, both locally and regionally.
This year, according to Director Vicky Dayton, the center is planning something a little bit different in hopes of reaching a wider audience, one she hopes will walk away with a better understanding of how the cycle of abuse starts, but more importantly how ordinary people can help to curb it and keep the ones they love safe.
To do this, the Family Crisis Center has partnered with the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, Barton Community College, Walmart, Great Bend Middle School Booster Club, Eagle Radio and the Great Bend Tribune to bring women’s rights activist Donald G. McPherson to Great Bend.
McPherson is best remembered by sports aficionados as the captain of the undefeated 1987 Syracuse football team, McPherson set 22 school records, led the nation in passing and won more than 18 national “player of the year” awards, including the Maxwell Award as the nation’s best player, the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award and the inaugural Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. He was second in the Heisman Trophy voting. He went on to become quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles and later the Houston Oilers, something that was still ground breaking for African Americans in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, McPherson and football have an odd relationship.
“Though he continues to relish watching college football on Saturday afternoons, he often can’t help but see certain harsh truths behind the glitz and spotlights,” the article states. “Mostly what he sees is the way young men are taught to strut and boast and behave, in his words, “to never throw like a girl.
This he said, tells boys that women and girls are somehow less than men.
“It’s a horrible, horrible lesson,” McPherson stated. “But it’s the culture of sports. It needs to change.”
McPherson’s talk is aptly titled,“You Throw Like a Girl - Challenge the Perspective, Change the Culture.”
Directed primarily at men, it focuses on language such as “you throw like a girl” that sets a standard on the narrow expectations of masculinity while simultaneously establishing an understanding that girls and women are “less than” men. The presentation focuses on nurturing positive language and understanding of masculine identity.
Dayton hopes McPherson himself will be a particular draw to many men and women, young and old, that might not be reached by the center’s traditional Red Shoe event.
Leading up to his arrival, the Family Crisis Center challenges local schools, businesses, and organizations to raise the funds that normally would have been raised for the center during the traditional Walk a Mile. Great Bend Middle School announced they are holding a class against class challenge to raise $10,000. The class that raises the most will choose a representative of the administration to wear red high heels.
McPherson will be in Great Bend on Tuesday, April 26. He will begin his day with an age appropriate presentation at Great Bend High School at 8:05 a.m., followed by a Great Bend Middle School Booster Club sponsored presentation at the middle school at 9:30 a.m. Parents are invited to attend.
Then, from 1 to 3 p.m., he will lead a Community Professionals Training at the Schafer Art Gallery, sponsored by KCSDV.
This all leads up to the big event Tuesday evening, when McPherson appears at The Crest Theater, 1905 Lakin St., for a presentation to the public. Local musicians Ian and Maxwell McGilber, The McGilber Bros., will perform at the opening of the appearance, one of their latest songs now available on iTunes.
The event is free and open to all to attend, but seating is limited.
Community sponsors of McPherson’s presentation of You Throw Like a Girl are Cuna Mutual, Stueder Contractors, Inc., Greta Bend Regional Hospital, P&S Security, P&S Electric Roustabout Service, Inc., Scott’s Welding Service, Venture Corp./ Chris and Julie Spray, OPI, Keller Real Estate, Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Marmie Motors / Marmie Ford, Beautiful Beginnings, Flavored Creations, Rana Luna, and Cornerstone Interiors.