MARSHALL, Texas – Serving the elementary children of Marshall Independent School District, the East Texas Baptist University athletic department partnered with Samaritan’s Feet providing shoes to four elementary schools. During NCAA Division III Week, over 50 ETBU student-athletes served 67 children new shoes and socks.
“It was such a great day to see these children receive new shoes from Samaritan’s Feet,” said Assistant Athletic Director for Communications Adam P. Ledyard. “I worked with Samaritan’s Feet two years ago in Orlando, Fla., during the CoSIDA Convention and knew the impact they had on people. When Ramiro (Mendez) came to me about his project in October I knew it was God-ordained to do here at ETBU. It’s such a wonderful thing to see a child smile.”
This event was a part of the NCAA Division III Week at ETBU as student-athletes were at four elementary schools in Marshall in Crockett, Carver, South Marshall, and Robert E. Lee. At these schools, the student-athletes washed and wiped the feet of the children, put on new socks, and then helped them lace up new shoes.
“Just to see their faces when they came in and hurried up to sit down and take off their old shoes and socks and put their feet in the water was a really cool thing. Seeing their faces, too, with the new shoes was priceless,” commented senior track and field and cross country student-athlete Shelby Sparks.
Raising over $1,800 for the shoes, the ETBU student-athletes hosted a Samaritan’s Feet weekend in Ornelas Gym against rivals LeTourneau University and Texas Tyler in February where over $600 was donated. The ETBU, LeTourneau, and Texas Tyler coaches all coached bare footed in the games to raise awareness for Samaritan’s Feet.
“Today was a blast,” quoted senior track and field and cross country senior student-athlete Ramiro Mendez. “We are helping four schools and it was a great experience. To see the children’s smiles when they received new shoes was exciting because that is what it is all about pouring into them and making them smile.”
Samaritan’s Feet was founded by Manny Ohonme who is from Nigeria and received his first pair of shoes at the age of nine. Those shoes changed his life and now that moment he had impacts many children in the United States and world. Ohonme founded Samaritan’s Feet in 2003 and since that time they have distributed over 6.5 million pairs of shoes in 88 countries and 325 U.S. cities.
Executive Director of Global Projects & Operations Graham Gibbs said, “This was a great event this afternoon in Marshall, Texas, partnering with student-athletes from East Texas Baptist University. Student-athletes from the men’s and women’s cross country/track & field, women’s soccer, and men’s and women’s basketball teams took time out of their busy schedules to invest in the lives of local children. Athletes have a powerful platform in our society and I am always thankful for those that use that platform to serve others. I also want to say a big thank you to Adam Ledyard and Ramiro Mendez for helping coordinate all the partnering groups.”
This is event is one of three big events on campus this week for athletics and NCAA Division III as they will host the StrikeOut Cancer game for softball at 12:00 p.m. and the James Morgan Memorial Day game at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday. It is also alumni day for both programs ending with a cookout at 5:00 p.m. for the former players.