Some of the best sounds are tennis shoes on gym floors, especially during a college basketball game.
An even better sound? Barefoot Division I college basketball coaches on the court during a big game, all to help get shoes for kids who otherwise would have none.
Shoes = hope
For too many kids around the world, barefoot is a forced way of life. In fact, 300 million children walk every day in their bare feet. Just a pair of shoes helps then avoid diseases, allows them to attend school and gives them a leg up in life.
Samaritan’s Feet works to raise awareness of the lack of shoes, and to secure funds to provide shoes to kids around the world.
Soles (and soul) for kids? We’re all in.
Our Fargo office proudly helped spread the word to kick off efforts to raise $100,000 and give kids hope through shoes.
Like most great ideas, this one started with one inspiring person.
It was 1980, and in Nigeria, Africa, 9-year-old Emmanuel “Manny” Ohonme, got his first pair of shoes from a U.S. missionary, who also told the little boy to “dream big.” Manny did. He already loved playing basketball, and with the help of a coach, he received a scholarship to Lake Region State College in Devils Lake, N.D. Manny also went on to Concordia College in Moorhead, and earned his master’s from North Dakota State University. He met his wife in Devils Lake, and the two have built their careers and raised their family of four kids in Charlotte, N.C.
Manny returned to Nigeria for his father’s funeral, and amongst other things, noticed many kids without shoes—and without big dreams. He started Samaritan’s Feet in 2003, and the organization got a real kick start in 2008 when legendary college basketball coach Ron Hunter coached a game barefoot and helped raise enough funds for 100,000 pairs of shoes.
Since then, more than 3,000 coaches at all levels have coached sans shoes. This year alone, Manny’s organization has distributed shoes to more than 5 million kids in 65 countries.
N.D. coaches shed their shoes
Earlier this month, Manny came back to Fargo for the NDSU – UND basketball game, dubbed “Barefoot for Bare Feet” because both head coaches, NDSU’s Saul Phillips and UND’s Brian Jones, shed their shoes to build awareness for Manny’s Samaritan’s Feet organization.
- Raise awareness of Samaritan’s Feet
- Raise funds for 10,000 pairs of shoes (read: help for 10,000 kids!)
- Fill seats for the game
- Continue building community pride – “We can do big things in North Dakota”
The Flint Group provided messaging strategy, social media strategy and creative elements, including posters, flyers, an online landing page and 30-second TV commercial.
We also took care of media relations, including news releases, coordinating interviews with an AP writer and a news conference. And we helped connect Manny and his organization to UND to ensure its participation. Donations were accepted via a website, text messaging and during the actual game.
How’d we do, Manny?
“We set out to help raise awareness for the cause across North Dakota, and we really exceeded that. The news about this event went global. The articles were powerful, and the donations will now help kids around the globe,” Manny told us.
Our media relations with the Associated Press helped generate articles and stories on myriad local, regional and national news and sports sources, including NBC Sports, Fox News, Sports Illustrated, the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle and dozens of others.
While the awareness goal was exceeded, the monetary goal hasn’t been hit yet, and plans are underway for a summer golf tournament to continue the momentum.
The true winners
NDSU won the game, but the real winners are kids who now have a pair of shoes—and a whole new lace on life, courtesy of one inspiring young man who came to North Dakota from a world away. We are proud to be part of the great sound of giving—and kids who will now echo success thanks to a simple pair of shoes.