Walk a mile in my shoes. 

That’s the theme of an event being held in Newark on Saturday, May 20, to pay tribute to family members who have struggled with or succumbed to the disease of addiction, as well as those facing homelessness.

Newark Homeless Outreach and OhioCAN (Change Addiction Now) are hosting “Steps of Change: Walk a Mile in my Shoes” at the Licking County Courthouse.

The event will kick off at 10 a.m. with a 3-mile run and a 1-mile memory walk. The objective is to raise awareness about the disease that is addiction and honor the memory of people who have lost their lives to substance use and mental health struggles, as well as those currently battling these challenges within the unsheltered community.

Live music, food and speakers will be featured during the Saturday event, which is free and open to the public.

All funds collected at the event will be used by Newark Homeless Outreach, a grassroots organization that works to supply resources to those seeking a place to live or help them deal with their substance use. 

A shoe memorial will be in place at the courthouse on Saturday to remember those who died due to substance use disorders, homelessness and mental health challenges. 

In 2022, the event featured 167 pairs of children’s shoes and 190 pairs of adult shoes symbolizing the unhoused population in Newark. The public is invited to attend this year’s event, and families affected by these issues are welcome to bring shoes representing their loved ones.

All shoes, other than those brought by a family member to remember a loved one who died as a result of addiction, will be donated to those in need through the Newark Homeless Outreach and to local children’s agencies. For more information or to donate, go to the OhioCAN Newark Homeless Outreach website.

Jack Wolf writes for TheReportingProject.org, the nonprofit news organization of the Denison University Journalism Program, which is sponsored in part by the Mellon Foundation.