Kicking off shoes for a cause



By Sarah Pickerel

After days of sunshine and warm weather, the rain held off just long enough for students to make a statement.

Anyone near W. T. Young Library on Thursday around noon couldn’t help but notice something odd happening on campus. The air was filled with excitement as students everywhere reinforced the ancient stereotype of Kentuckians, as they went throughout their day barefoot in support of One Day Without Shoes.

Emilee Dover, president of the TOMS Shoes Campus Club, said it was interesting to see individuals’ reactions as she walked barefoot to the starting point of the march.

“There were definitely some confused faces when people saw us walking barefoot at first,” Dover said.  “But once we educated them on why we’re going barefoot, you could tell they were more than interested.”

Andrew Joyce, a political science sophomore, was one student inspired at the last minute to join in the march. Joyce seemed very pleased with his decision to go barefoot.

“I have recently been trying to become more active around campus, and this seemed like an excellent opportunity to do something that moves me,” Joyce said. “I participated because the cause that TOMS supports is very worthwhile, and the least I could do is walk a while in those kids’ shoes.”

One Day Without Shoes, created by TOMS, is meant to raise awareness while giving people across the globe the opportunity to step out of their own shoes and into others as they experience what it’s like to live without something as simple as shoes.

TOMS, founded by Blake Mycoskie, works to prevent soil-transmitted diseases by providing a needy child with a pair of shoes for every purchased pair of TOMS shoes.

Dover said as the first event the club has hosted on campus, she was excited to organize a barefoot march through campus in hopes of raising awareness of TOMS’ One-for-One mission. She was more than satisfied with the number of participants.

“We had over 700 people confirm on the Facebook group and 100 come out and march with us,” Dover said. “Through social medium, we reached a lot of students even if they weren’t able to participate. Awareness is the first and most important step. Anyone who came out made a difference and I’m so grateful for everyone that did.”

The impact of this event was not only evident on UK’s campus, but also proved to have spilled over into the community. Dover said even high school and middle school students from Scott County showed up to participate.

Michelle Ashcraft, assistant director of UK New Student and Parent Programs and the adviser for the TOMS Shoes Campus Club, was also pleased with the turnout.

“Our students at UK are very volunteer-oriented, and it’s great to see so many students behind a movement as simple as supporting those who don’t have shoes,” Ashcraft said. “I’m pleased so many took time out of their day to walk with us.”

Students came with very different expectations of what One Day Without Shoes would hold.

Danielle Crawford, a UK senior and member of the TOMS Shoes Campus Club, said throughout the walk she began to realize that walking around barefoot, even for a very short period of time, is significantly harder than she had anticipated.

“I guess I never really thought too much about what it would feel like,” Crawford said. “It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be. The gravel sidewalk was the worst for everyone.”