Football standouts aid children's charity

The Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference partnered with Samaritan’s Feet International during the 2013 football season and held a shoe distribution at Padua Academy Jan. 13 in Indianapolis, Ind. The HCAC is the first NCAA conference in all three divisions to hold a conference-wide initiative with Samaritan’s Feet.

Members of the all-Heartland Conference football team and coaching staffs were present as 230 children received a brand new pair of shoes due to their fundraising efforts during the season. The shoe distribution followed a program and breakfast at NCAA's Indianapolis headquarters, where Samaritan’s Feet founder, Manny Ohonme, spoke to the group.

“The Samaritan's Feet partnership with the HCAC has taken our student-athlete involvement to a whole different level,” said Ohonme. “From the fundraising to their hands-on service, the excitement I have personally experienced has energized my commitment to inspire tomorrow's leaders to live and serve purposefully. Thank you to the HCAC for using your platform to impact so many lives.”

The partnership between the Heartland Conference and Samaritan’s Feet was sparked by College of Mount St. Joseph (Ohio) football coach Rod Huber. Following a visit to Africa last summer, Huber was motivated to support of Samaritan's Feet's mission to provide 10 million pair of shoes to 10 million people within the next 10 years. This prompted Huber to reach out to the HCAC head coaches and Commissioner Chris Ragsdale to garner their support and designate one game during the 2013 season to support this initiative.
 
“The Samaritan’s Feet shoe distribution at the Padua Academy was an overwhelming success,” said Huber. “I was truly moved by the manner in which these big tough football players from the all-HCAC team sat, washed the feet of the children and slipped on a new pair of  shoes and socks."
 
The conference raised approximately $7,000 and 75 new pairs of shoes during the season fundraising event. As a result, every child from kindergarten through eighth grade at Padua Academy was supplied with a brand new pair of shoes, socks and a sack pack donated by the Office Depot Foundation.
 
"Today's program was truly a life changing experience. I am so thrilled that we were able to bring this opportunity to student-athletes from our conference,” stated Ragsdale. “In 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. Ragsdale added, "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."

If you would like to make a donation to Samaritan’s Feet cause you can do so here:  http://www.samaritansfeet.org/donate.

Courtesy Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference