INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference partnered with Samaritan's Feet International for the fifth consecutive year during the 2017 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 third 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 former 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.
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 $7,600 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 and a general distribution will be made to Samaritan's Feet to support other service efforts.
"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.
"Samaritan's Feet is a wonderful foundation to volunteer for," said HCAC Special Teams Player of the Year Dakota Nelson of Manchester. "This event brings smiles to young people's faces and there is something special about seeing them light up over a new pair of shoes. After attending this event for the past few years, it makes us football players realize how easy we can get caught up in our personal lives. I am grateful and blessed to be able to serve at this event and I hope to continue volunteering in years to come."
First-Team All-HCAC selection Kaelen Garner of Rose-Hulman stated, "I have come to the Samaritan's Feet event the last three years and each year has been a humbling experience. I really feel like I am making an impact in some of these young children's lives."
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.