LEXINGTON, Ky. - Fans of University of Kentucky Basketball will notice something different during the National Anthem at tonight's UK game -- Head Basketball Coach John Calipari along with his coaching staff will be barefoot.
It's all part of the "Barefoot for Bare Feet" movement in which coaches across the country shed their shoes and coach a game barefoot in order to raise awareness and financial support for Samaritan's Feet. Samaritan's Feet is a nonprofit humanitarian organization dedicated to bringing hope and new athletic shoes to impoverished children in 52 countries including the United States.
The UK coaches are using their platform to provide a voice for the 300 million children throughout the world who do not own even one pair of shoes.
After participating in a Samaritan's Feet shoe distribution for orphans in Haiti this past June, Coach Cal was deeply impacted by the simple yet profoundly humbling act of washing the feet of children and providing them with new shoes.
"It's really neat the way Samaritan's Feet does it," said Coach Calipari. "You can't imagine the smiles and appreciation. It's an amazing feeling to give those kids even a few minutes of that excitement that comes with getting new shoes."
This past August while in Michigan with his team, Coach Cal along with his staff and players participated in a Samaritan's Feet shoe distribution in Detroit. After washing their feet and providing the children with new shoes, Coach Calipari and the UK squad engaged the students in basketball drills.
"Coach Calipari does not just promote servant leadership, he demonstrates it," said Manny Ohonme, Founder and President of Samaritan's Feet. "Whether it's in Haiti or economically-challenged regions of the United States, Coach Cal has personally impacted children in poverty. By washing their feet and providing them with new athletic shoes, Coach Cal is helping Samaritan's Feet bring hope and encouragement to impoverished children around the world."
Coach Cal is calling on his over one million Twitter followers to join him in supporting Samaritan's Feet, by texting the word SHOES to 85944. A $10 donation to Samaritan's Feet will be added to the caller's next phone bill.
Proceeds from this event will go towards a Kentucky shoe distribution for children in need, and the New Life Orphanage in Haiti.
About Samaritan's Feet: There are over 300 million children who go without shoes every day. It's their only mode of transportation. That's why Samaritan's Feet was started. Samaritan's Feet is a humanitarian relief organization based in Charlotte, NC that puts shoes on the feet of children all around the world. Our goal is to provide-10 million pairs of shoes for 10 million impoverished people in 10 years. To date, nearly 3,000,000 pairs of shoes for children around the world have been collected.
Samaritan's Feet was started in 2003 by President and Founder, Manny Ohonme. Manny received his first pair of shoes at the age of 9 from a missionary. He started playing basketball and other sports with this new pair of shoes. He earned a spot on a traveling basketball team and eventually his high school team. Upon graduating high school, he was offered a scholarship to play basketball at University of North Dakota (Lake Region). He later received his Bachelor's and Master's Degrees and pursued a career in supply chain and software marketing.