INDIANAPOLIS, IN – The Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference partnered with Samaritan's Feet International for the third consecutive year during the 2015 football season and held a shoe distribution at Holy Cross School in Indianapolis. Members of the All-HCAC football team and coaching staffs were present as over 200 children received a brand new pair of shoes due to their fundraising efforts during the season.
This was the first year the HCAC and Samaritan's Feet teamed with Holy Cross School for its annual distribution.
The partnership between the HCAC and Samaritan's Feet was sparked by 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.
"The Samaritan's Feet shoe distribution at Holy Cross School was once again an overwhelming success," said Huber. "I was truly moved by the manner in which these football players from the All-HCAC team sat and washed the feet of the children and slipped on a new pair of shoes and socks." Huber added, "They encouraged the youngsters to be positive, stay in school, and dream big dreams. I left the event knowing the football players, coaches, and Samaritan's Feet made a difference in the lives of the 200 children served in Indianapolis."
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 $7,000 dollars during the season fundraising event. As a result of these efforts, every child in need at Holy Cross School in Indianapolis was supplied with a brand new pair of shoes and socks.
"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.
"I had a great time meeting and talking to the kids," said HCAC Defensive Most Valuable Player Ryan Aelker of Bluffton. "It was a great experience and I enjoyed every minute of it."
"Samaritan's feet was such an overwhelming experience," added HCAC Offensive Most Valuable Player Chase Burton of Franklin. "To watch the kids' faces light up as we washed their feet and replaced their shoes was truly special."
Following the distribution, one member from each of the nine HCAC football teams presented the principal of Holy Cross School, Ruth Hittel, an autographed football featuring the signature of each player participating in the event.
"We will treasure this and when you are all in the NFL we will sell it for lots of money," said Hittel with a laugh.
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.