Walk a mile in someone’s shoeless feet

Eastern Kentucky University students walk barefoot Thursday around Tom Samuels Track as part of One Day Without Shoes, an event to raise awareness of those around the world who cannot afford shoes and of the difference a pair of shoes can make in a child’s life.

Across the country on Thursday, people went barefoot to help raise awareness for children who can not afford shoes.

As part of One Day Without Shoes, a national shoe retailer, TOMS, asked people to go the day, part of the day, or even just a few minutes barefoot, to experience a life without shoes first-hand.

The event was designed to increase awareness of the impact a simple pair of shoes can bring to a child’s life, according to the shoe company’s Web site.

At EKU, 40-50 students participated in the event.

“Children are innocent,” said Leah Savage, a freshman from Nicholasville. “They shouldn’t go without basic needs just because their family can’t afford it.”

Stevie Meek, a senior from Grayson, and Amanda Schneider, a junior from Elizabethtown, organized the event.

They started a TOMS Campus Club at EKU after being inspired by the organization, which helps the needy, including the company’s pledge to donate a new pair of shoes for every time a pair is purchased, they said.

Meek and Schneider said they felt One Day Without Shoes was the perfect event to kick off their club at EKU.

“A strong step towards change starts locally,” Meek said. “When you wear shoes, you don’t notice all the things on the ground, like rocks and sticks and rain. It’s a huge eye opener for me. I could never imagine not even having the option to wear shoes.”

Students were invited to go barefoot throughout the day, which led to a few confused stares from classmates and barefoot students being denied access to the cafeteria, said participants.

In the afternoon, everyone met at the Powell Building to watch a video showcasing countries where people can not afford shoes.

Shoe and monetary donations were accepted.

After the video, participants headed to the campus track to walk a minimum of one mile and enjoy food and prizes.

“I’m so amazed to see so many people out here,” said Schneider, who started a campaign on campus and on the social networking Web site Facebook to get students interested in the event.

She said students responded quickly and positively to being involved in the program.

Despite the wet, and sometimes cooler conditions on Thursday, students seemed to be enjoying participating in the event.

“It will help people realize kids do this every day their whole lives,” said Sarah Clancy, a freshman from Cincinnati. “As Americans we take for granted simple things like wearing shoes.”

Tim Mandell can be reached at tmandell@richmondregister.com or 623-1669 ext. 6696.

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