INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference partnered with Samaritan's Feet International for the fourth consecutive year during the 2016 football season and held a shoe distribution at Holy Cross Central School in Indianapolis Wednesday morning. Members of the All-HCAC football team and coaching staffs were present as over 240 children received a brand new pair of shoes due to their fundraising efforts during the season.
This was the second year the HCAC and Samaritan's Feet teamed with Holy Cross Central School for its annual distribution.
The partnership between the HCAC and Samaritan's Feet was sparked by Mount St. Joseph University 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. This motivation prompted the conference head coaches and HCAC Commissioner Chris Ragsdale to support the cause and designate one game each fall to raise money for the initiative.
"The HCAC football teams and Samaritan's Feet Day at Holy Cross had a tremendous impact on both the children and the HCAC All-Conference members," said Huber. "I was very moved to see the big, tough football players sit on the floor and wash the feet of the students from Holy Cross and slipped on a new pair of shoes and socks." Huber added, "The high fives, hugs, and smiles on the faces of the children and football players as they walked out of the gym were priceless. I am humbled to be a part of such a great community service project and the HCAC football players did an outstanding job."
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 over $4,700 dollars during the season fundraising event. As a result of these efforts, every child in need at Holy Cross Central School in Indianapolis was supplied with a brand new pair of shoes and socks.
"In NCAA 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," stated HCAC Commissioner, Christopher Ragsdale. "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.
During the event, players gave each student they served a personalized autograph on a commemorative card that included the HCAC and Samaritan's Feet logo and the date of the event.
"The Samaritan's Feet experience was great," said HCAC Defensive Most Valuable Player Isaac Zickafoose of Bluffton. "I was glad I had the opportunity that I had today with the kids, and it was great seeing the smiles on their faces as they received their new shoes."
"Often I get caught up in my personal life and forget the value of service," added HCAC Special Teams Most Valuable Player Matt Murray of Rose-Hulman. "It was truly a rewarding experience and a joy to see the children's faces light up when we put a brand new pair of shoes on their feet."
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 over 6.5 million people in 60 countries.
If you would like to make a donation to Samaritan's Feet cause you can do so here.