Bare feet draw attention to growing cause


In spite of temperatures dipping to 50 degrees, some Northern Kentucky University students chose to go barefoot and raise awareness April 10 for One Day Without Shoes.
One Day Without Shoes is a day when people are challenged to put themselves in someone else’s shoes—or lack thereof—by going barefoot for one day. The event was organized by TOMS, a shoe company started by Blake Mycoskie in 2006 that matches every pair of shoes purchased with a new pair for a child in need.

“Their philosophy is ‘One for One’ so you’re basically buying two pairs of shoes,” NKU junior marketing major Susan Switzer said.

The event is to generate awareness for the people who live life without a single pair of shoes. Going without shoes is hazardous to the health of people all over the world. Some of the biggest hazards according to are podoconiosis, a disfiguring soil-based disease; hookworm; debris such as glass and syringes; and jiggers, which are burrowing-type fleas that cause a painful infection.

“Shoes are such a basic need, that are in such high demand that so many children don’t have them. They can prevent all of those things,” sophomore Loren Papin said. “People go without shoes all the time; we can do it for just one day.”

Rebecca Potzner, a junior public relations student, tried to organize a TOMS club in fall 2011, but it didn’t last due to low participation.

Despite the fact that the organization never got off the ground, Potzner was able to get NKU students to participate in last year’s one day without shoes challenge.
“[We] got so many weird looks last year,” Potzner said. “People want[ed] to know why you don’t have shoes on.”

Last year’s events were similar to what happened this year. A documentary was shown which followed TOMS representatives going to different countries and handing out shoes. A “sympathy walk” was held where a mixture of dirt, mulch and rocks was laid out for students to walk across to get a feel for what other people go through every day. Students showed they were participating by spending the day barefoot and/or having the TOMS logo painted on the top of their foot.

An after party was held in front of Griffin Hall, but only a few people showed, and the weather became a problem with the wind picking up and the sun not warming anything or anyone.
Switzer is trying to rebuild the TOMS campus club that helped bring the challenge to campus last year. She would like to keep things going all year round as well.
“Ideally I would like, in the fall, to do a barefoot 5k or 1k just to keep TOMS recognizable year round.”

If you missed out on the challenge but are still interested in getting involved, there will be a TOMS meeting at 2 p.m. April 25 in Student Union room 108.