Last week, my wife, Meredith and I attended the Samaritan’s Feet Champions of Hope Weekend, held in Florida. Hosted by our friends and founders of Samaritan’s Feet, Tracie and Dr. Manny Ohonme, the annual event brings national speakers, sports figures, and performers together with their nonprofit’s supporters. As an organization working in 75 countries, it’s a rare opportunity for us to gather in one place, meet and share ideas with others, learn more about the impact being made, and unveil plans for the next year.
Since 2003, Samaritan’s Feet has distributed more than 6.5 million shoes to children with more than 71,000 volunteers. They’re working in 325 U.S. communities, including Memphis; and they’ve led 189 international mission trips.
Even though “shoes” are the vehicle, the real magic of the outreach is “service” and the conversations and hope instilled between adult volunteers and the children. One morning at the event was dedicated to serving local youth in Florida. It was amazing to see hundreds of kids overjoyed, receiving new socks and shoes while having their feet washed by people like Baltimore Ravens running back, Justin Forsett; college basketball coaches Ron Hunter and Scott Nagy; and PepsiCo executive and inventor of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, Richard Montañez. The laughs, smiles, hugs, love, and prayers shared are the real blessings for everyone.
At the event, Manny Ohonme unveiled a “World Shoe” that Samaritan’s Feet soon will be manufacturing. According to the World Health Organization, more than 1.5 billion people across the world are affected by a soil-transmitted disease that could be prevented by wearing proper footwear. In response, Samaritan’s Feet has developed a shoe that can prevent the contraction of these diseases and treat existing wounds and infections with the help of an anti-microbial agent inside the shoe’s material. This revolutionary product is made of breathable material for hot climates and is wider in width to allow healing.
It’s exciting to think that having a “healthy sole” is an epidemic we can eliminate; that we could imagine a world with no shoeless children. Now Samaritan’s Feet is working to raise $5 million to manufacture and distribute the first million pairs of World Shoes. Visit samaritansfeet.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more and see how you can help. Then, come out and serve with us at one of our shoe distributions here in Memphis and see the impact firsthand!