The creator of the fastest growing shoe company in the world soon will speak at IUPUI now that the campus has won a national campaign to promote shoe giveaways to impoverished children.
IUPUI was named the top supporter for the national Barefoot Challenge: One Day Without Shoes campaign. More than 10,000 university students, employees and others connected to the university signed on to support the April 5 event, many going about their normal campus schedules while barefoot.
“It was simply amazing to see the campus reaction to the Challenge,” said Natasha Seitz, one of five IUPUI students who organized the campus campaign. “The support, not just from students, but from faculty, staff and the community, was beyond any we’ve ever seen. It was great to see such a diverse campus come together and pledge for one cause.”
TOMS shoes, a national shoe designer and retailer, sponsors the annual event as a way to raise awareness for children in third-world countries. With each TOMS purchase, the company donates a pair of shoes to a child in need. Since adopting the “One for One” philosophy five years ago, the company has donated more than 1 million pairs of shoes to children in 23 countries.
Arrangements are still being finalized to bring TOMS Founder Blake Mycoskie to IUPUI to speak, possibly in the fall. In addition, the student organizers may be invited on a “shoe drop” with TOMS staffers.
The Kelley School of Business Indianapolis was among the IUPUI schools to show strong support for the campaign. Barefoot staff and students walked through the halls of the business building throughout the day.
“Many students in my class are working with non-profits, so their awareness is higher than average,” said Kelley clinical assistant marketing professor Kim Saxton, who saw half of the students in a marketing class bare their feet for the event.
“The students said they really liked being part of the challenge and joining in,” Saxton added. “Several mentioned their feet really hurt by the end of the day. They had no idea how difficult it is to not wear shoes.”
Mycoskie created TOMs following a 2006 visit to Argentina, where he found many children living without shoes to protect their feet. He later returned with a large group of friends and family and donated 10,000 pairs of TOMS shoes.
The One for One movement has continued since. Mycoskie continues to provide shoes to needy children to protect against injury and disease and support healthy living among poor countries.