Second time’s the charm for River House, Inc. 5280 Walk
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
Although the wind was blowing and temperatures were chilly, a group of nearly 20 walkers made a trek through Grayling to raise awareness regarding sexual assault.
The River House, Inc. held its third annual 5280 Walk on Friday, April 27.
The aim for the fundraiser was for men to walk the 5,280 feet – one mile – to earn pledges benefiting the women’s resource shelter.
The men had the choice of walking in high heels or pink flip-flops with ribbons tied around the straps.
Initially planned for Friday, April 13, the walk had to be postponed due to a snow storm that pummeled the community.
The walk was part of promoting April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
“We found a day that was two weeks out and just decided to get it done,” said Rachel Robbins, an outreach client advocate for River House, Inc.
This year, the walk had the theme “Hops and Heels.” The American Legion, Spike’s Keg O’ Nails, Paddle Hard Brewing, and Rolling Oak Brewing sponsored drink specials with a share of proceeds going to the shelter.
“They were super accommodating and grateful,” said Carla Ott, the development director for River House, Inc.
While most participants were from Grayling, William Lownsberry traveled down from the Village of Wolverine in Cheboygan County for the walk.
Lownsberry, who brought his own heels, has participated in 54 similar walks throughout Michigan and Wisconsin over the last 17 years.
“We walk for the victims to let them know we care,” he said.
Lownsberry noted that big time businessmen and celebrities are being held accountable for sexual assaults, especially through the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements.
“There’s an awful lot of this in the news. Big people and powerful people are under the gun,” he said. “They’re not getting away with the way things used to be. If you’re perpetrator, they’re coming for you.”
Lonnie Cook, from Roscommon, took part in the walk since he is a former volunteer at River House, Inc. and still has friends that work there.
“It is fun and I like the issue of raising awareness,” said Cook, who wore a dress and a large women’s hat for the walk. “The whole walking a mile in their shoes – it’s figurative to put these heels on – but no way could I possibly relate to some of issues they go through. If it’s causing a little pain in my feet to bring awareness to people that are going to be seeing the signs as we walk by or checking out the dude in a dress, it’s whatever works.”
Cook was joined by his girlfriend, Angela Jensen, from Bellaire. She pulled her hair back, wore a shirt and tie and a hat since costumes were encouraged for the walk.
“She was like if you are going dress in a dress, I will dress like I’m a dude,” Cook said. “She’s a team player. I thought that was awesome.”
The walk was a fun way for the couple to kick off the weekend.
“I think that it is a great cause, so I decided I wanted to come and see him in a dress, but I also wanted to support a good cause,” Jensen said.
The walk was a family affair for the Robbins family. Rachel’s husband, Brooks Robbins, walked and pulled their son, Capser, in a wagon which looked like a truck.
“It’s cool and I am happy to support it,” Brooks said. “It’s for a good cause, and it’s something that I believe in. I’m happy to do it.”
There was a $25 donation charged as an entry fee, which was be donated to support shelter operations. Participants were encouraged to seek financial pledges for taking part in the walk.
A total of $380 was raised.
“It’s not necessarily about the fundraising, but it’s about the awareness,” Rachel said.