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How an Anti-Domestic Violence Benefit Is Confronting Recent N.F.L. Scandals

The sixth annual Walk This Way Fashion Show features N.F.L. players as models in the fund-raiser to fight violence against women.

By D. Channing Muller October 28, 2014, 7:15 AM EDT

Participants walk the runway at the 2013 Becky's Fund Walk This Way Fashion Show.

Photo: Naiffer Photo

Becky’s Fund's successful model for its Walk This Way Fashion Show has paired N.F.L. players and other Washington-area professional athletes to serve as fashion models in the fund-raiser benefiting domestic violence awareness programs. This year's sixth annual show, scheduled for Thursday, comes at at time when the N.F.L. is under scrutiny for its recent headline-making incidents and policies on domestic violence, and the timing has influenced the event.

Organizers reached out to both the Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens directly, as they have in the past, though felt they encountered more roadblocks with the Ravens this year after a disturbing video surfaced of then-player Ray Rice knocking his fiancée unconscious. 

“I don’t think they were resistant to participate, but my group felt there was some hesitation from the players on the team who didn’t want to feel [that by participating] they were going against Ray because he was a teammate,” says founder Becky Lee.

At press time, Ravens player Chykie Brown is confirmed to walk in the show, and the group is in talks with two additional teammates. Other N.F.L. representation comes from Washington's Pierre Garcon, Andre Roberts, Kai Forbath, and Chris Baker, as well as former N.F.L. players Gary Clark and John Booty.

The event will address the N.F.L.’s recent news-making headlines directly through the decor and opening remarks, the latter of which will respond to the league’s new domestic violence policy. The backdrop of the runway, and coordinating event programs, will be the front page of a newspaper—a message to attendees that the issue of domestic violence should always be front-page news, not only when it involves a prominent person.

Lee expects the event, taking place at the Embassy of Italy, to once again sell out at 500 guests, with no effect from the N.F.L. scandal. The tables—priced from $1,200 to $5,000—are already sold out with only about 40 general admission tickets left.

Proceeds from the night will benefit the fund’s Men of Code program, which trains male high school athletes to become leaders and build healthy relationships with women. N.F.L. athletes participate in the program by going to Washington-area schools to talk about their experiences growing up in the N.F.L. and what it means to be a positive male role model.

“They are the male role models these kids look up to, whether active or former players, and [the teenagers] get to see what it means to be a positive role model making responsible decisions during and after school,” Lee says.

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