Making tracks: Track team leads shoe drive for Soles4Souls

By J.P. Lepping

The UK track and field team has decided to give back.

Two members of the team, Luis Orta and Josh Nadzam, have started a shoe drive on UK’s campus after recognizing how many individuals worldwide are in need of footwear.

Since the shoe drive started, the team has collected nearly 300 pairs of shoes and hopes to double that number by the time the drive concludes on May 6.

When the drive is over, Orta, Nadzam and the track and field team are going to donate all of the shoes they collected to Soles4Souls, an organization that finds new homes for the used shoes.

“We started the shoe drive because we realized how many pairs of shoes we were throwing away and how many people could use our old shoes,” Orta said.

Soles4Souls is a charity organization that is based out of Nashville, Tenn. More than 13 million pairs of gently used shoes have been given out within the past six years, and Soles4Souls is currently giving a pair of shoes to someone in need every seven seconds.

Wayne Elsey started Soles4Souls in 2004 after a tsunami hit Southeast Asia and he felt compelled to make a difference. Since then, Soles4Souls has donated shoes to people in 125 different countries around the world.

“It opens your eyes when you realize how many people need shoes and, sometimes, how much you take for granted,” sociology senior Kelley Price said.

Orta and Nadzam said they hope that this shoe drive is just the beginning of athletes giving back to the community. They hope more teams on campus will recognize the impact they can have on people and how much they can benefit not only the people of Lexington but also people all around the world.

“We are always looking for ways to give back to our community because they provide so much support for us,” Nadzam said.

Those interested in donating a pair of shoes can contact Orta or Nadzam at [email protected] and [email protected] and set up a pickup date for the shoes.

Shoes can be dropped off at the academic tutoring facility (C.A.T.S.) in Memorial Coliseum.

“If we could start doing some sort of donation with shoes and clothing on an annual basis, it would help benefit the school and athletic association as a whole,” Orta said.