Walking a mile without shoes

April 5, 2011

As she does every weekday, freshman Kelsey Mayginnes hopped on a treadmill at the Markin Family Student Recreation Center this morning for a run. Unlike typical mornings, though, Mayginnes wasn’t wearing running shoes today. In fact, she wasn’t wearing any shoes.

Mayginnes and more than 100 Bradley students are going sans shoes today in a nationwide movement calling attention to the plight of children across the world who can’t afford adequate footwear.  Mayginnes is president of Bradley’s TOMS Campus Club, a student organization dedicated to conscious conservatism and spreading the mission of TOMS Shoes, a popular footwear brand famous for matching each sale with a donation of new shoes to a needy child.

“Our goal isn’t to sell TOMS shoes, but to raise awareness of its mission and to get people thinking about how we can get shoes to underprivileged people in the Peoria area,” Mayginnes said.

VIDEO: One Day Without Shoes

One idea the new organization hopes to implement is a round of shoe drops. They will gather donated shoes from the campus community and local high schools to drop off at area agencies that serve the underprivileged.

Today on Olin Quad, the organization is encouraging passersby to traipse barefoot across a pile of lava rock, one of mulch, and another of sand to feel some of the sensations people forced to go without shoes experience daily. At noon, about 30 students walked around campus in a Barefoot March, carrying signs spelling out the impact shoes, and lack thereof, can have on a child’s education. For many, no shoes means no school.

Sophomore Alicia Thomas chooses to go barefoot frequently for comfort, but realized today what it would be like to have no choice in the matter.

“Right now, I’m walking on these little tiny rocks and they’re irritating my feet. And the tar on the roads can be uncomfortable, too,” said Thomas, as she marched with the group. “The movement has really touched my heart. It’s one thing to go outside for five minutes without shoes, but you don’t realize how much shoes really matter until you go everywhere barefoot.”

Bradley’s TOMS Campus Club has more than 30 members and Mayginnes hopes today’s events will inspire more students to join the movement.