INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference partnered with Samaritan’s Feet International during the 2013 football season and held a shoe distribution at Padua Academy in Indianapolis Monday afternoon. The HCAC is the first NCAA conference in all three divisions to hold a conference wide initiative with Samaritan’s Feet.
Members of the All-HCAC football team and coaching staffs were present as 230 children received a brand new pair of shoes due to their fundraising efforts during the season. The shoe distribution followed a program and breakfast at NCAA Headquarters in Indianapolis where Samaritan’s Feet Founder, President, & CEO, Manny Ohonme, spoke to the group.
“The Samaritan's Feet partnership with the HCAC has taken our student-athlete involvement to a whole different level,” said Ohonme. “From the fundraising to their hands-on service, the excitement I have personally experienced has energized my commitment to inspire tomorrow's leaders to live and serve purposefully. Thank you to the HCAC for using your platform to impact so many lives.”
The partnership between the HCAC and Samaritan’s Feet was sparked by College of Mount St. Joseph football coach Rod Huber. Following his personal visit to Africa in the summer of 2013, Huber was motivated to find a way to do more in a significant and meaningful way for Samaritan’s Feet in support of their mission to provide 10 million pair of shoes to 10 million people within the next 10 years. It was this motivation which prompted Coach Huber to reach out to his fellow conference head coaches and HCAC Commissioner Chris Ragsdale to garner their support and designate one game during the fall of 2013 to support this initiative.
“The Samaritan’s Feet shoe distribution at the Padua Academy was an overwhelming success,” said Huber. “I was truly moved by the manner in which these big tough football players from the All-HCAC team sat and washed the feet of the children and slipped on a new pair of shoes and socks. They encouraged the youngsters to be positive, stay in school, and dream big dreams. I left the event knowing the football players, coaches, and Samaritan’s Feet made a difference in the lives of the 230 children served in Indianapolis.” Huber added, “We all look forward to growing the relationship between the HCAC and Samaritan’s Feet in the years to come.”
Each HCAC school scheduled a game during their season to raise awareness and funds. During a Barefoot Game, Samaritan’s Feet is highlighted in various ways. Often coaches elect to go through the game without wearing shoes in order to highlight the 300 million people around the world who go without shoes every day
The conference raised approximately $7,000 dollars and 75 new pairs of shoes during the season fundraising event. As a result of these efforts, every single child from kindergarten through eighth grade at Padua Academy in Indianapolis was supplied with a brand new pair of shoes, socks, and a sack pack donated by the Office Depot Foundation.
"Today's program was truly a life changing experience. I am so thrilled that we were able to bring this opportunity to student-athletes from our conference,” stated HCAC Commissioner, Christopher Ragsdale. “In Division III we are committed to the development of our student-athletes through a comprehensive educational experience; which includes furthering their development as future citizens and leaders within their communities. Consequently, it is incumbent upon us to provide, whenever possible, experiences that serve to increase the awareness of the need for strong positive leadership and their responsibility to make a difference in today's world." Ragsdale added, “The exclamation point of the day was when a third grade girl upon receiving a new pair of shoes stated to her friend, "This is the best day of my life!"”
The student-athletes were able to interact with each student as they participated in the distribution at Padua Academy. “Having the opportunity to volunteer with Samaritan’s Feet was truly an unforgettable experience,” stated Franklin College senior punter, Michael Parks. “It was definitely an eye opening event, seeing the amount of children who simply need shoes. Seeing the kids' reaction when they would slip on a brand new pair of shoes was priceless.”
Parks was also one of the many HCAC football players asked for an autograph by the children throughout the afternoon. “Signing the autographs was a lot of fun, making all of us feel like celebrities”, he said with a smile.
Samaritan’s Feet is a non-profit organization founded by Manny Ohonme in 2003. Their mission is to equip ten million impoverished children with ten million shoes in ten years. Since beginning in 2003, Samaritan’s Feet has helped 4 million people in 60 countries.
If you would like to make a donation to Samaritan’s Feet cause you can do so here: http://www.samaritansfeet.org/donate