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A team gets ready for YWCA York's Walk a Mile in Her Shoes fundraiser in downtown York City Friday, Oct. 6, 2017. Lindsay VanAsdalan

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Keith Noll walks for his mother.

She grew up in a central Pennsylvania city row home in the 1930s, and her father had a mental condition that caused aggression and violent tendencies, especially toward women.

He would sometimes be up all night, making very particular demands.

"It was like a prison, and he was the warden, " Noll said. "Her bedroom was above where he sat. He would bang on (the pipe that ran from the first to the second floor) without moving from his chair and expect her to wait on him."

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If she wasn’t fast enough, he said, there would be yelling, and he would physically remove her from her bed, threatening that next time he might not wake her up.

She and her younger brother left during her early teen years after her father became physically violent with their mother and she had to intervene.

If it weren't for friends, family and services available to help them when they fled the house, she might not be here today, Noll said.

Noll took part in York's Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, which kicked off with a pre-party on Friday, Oct. 6, at Warehaus on North George Street, followed by a mile walk through downtown York in which men donned high heels in support of the many women affected by domestic violence.

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YWCA York took on the national program, which works to end violence against women and girls and raise funds for victim services, in 2010 because it ties in directly to the YWCA's vision of empowering women and eliminating racism, said YWCA York marketing coordinator Crystal Patterson.

"Men and boys in York County embraced this from the very beginning," she said. This year, she expected more than 350 to attend.

Noll, senior vice president of WellSpan Health (serving as this year's walk sponsor) and president of WellSpan York Hospital, attended the walk for the first time this year.

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Noll embraced the lighter side of the event, allowing the women in his office suite to pick his shoes: a pair of wide-heeled 70s-style go-go boots.

WellSpan spokesman and fellow walker Dan Carrigan was not so lucky, Noll said, ending up in a pair of stilettos.

Noll is glad they work for a health system, he joked, in case they get hurt.

Funds from the event support victims through YWCA's Access-York and Victim Assistance Center, which provides counseling, legal services, emergency shelter, housing and community education to victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and human trafficking.

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Noll was the top fundraiser for the walk, raising more than $6,500 of the $97,000 in event donations, according to the event website.

"It’s been very fun, and it’s been amazing to watch what it’s done in (WellSpan)," he said.

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Noll said his mother wanted to highlight the importance of treatment services that go hand in hand with domestic violence help, noting that his mother's father was later treated and reconciled with her before he died.

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As the YWCA is York County's primary provider of services for people dealing with domestic-violence issues, the best way to help is through donations in support of these programs, according to Jean M. Treuthart, YWCA Chief Executive Officer.

Friday's walk kicked off domestic violence awareness month.

Noll's mother is still alive today and "very spunky and energetic, " Noll said. 

"She was proud that I asked her about telling her story," he said. "She thought it would help."

Though Noll's mother still struggles with the memories, she and her mother were both able to move on, and he said she hopes to show other women who might be suffering that if they have the courage to leave, there can be life after.

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