On Feb. 21, representatives from the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, GSU athletes, coaches and members of the Athletic Department braved chilly temps, shed their shoes and walked through the streets of downtown Atlanta for charity.
This year, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) partnered with Samaritan’s Feet to organize a walk across campus to help provide new shoes for children desperately in need in the United States and around the world. The effort is part of Samaritan’s Feet Barefoot for Bare Feet movement where volunteers and groups organize events, collect shoes and raise funds. Men’s basketball coach Ron Hunter is known nationally for his work with Samaritan’s Feet. GSU student-athletes already combine for more than 5,000 hours of community service each school year.
“It’s a great charity,” said SAAC president and senior track athlete Kelsey Spinks. “And as student-athletes, our goal is to first and foremost raise awareness on campus and in Atlanta for Samaritans Feet.”
The walk took place at 12:30 p.m. Feb. 21, when the temperature was hovering in the mid-50s. SAAC representatives as well as other athletes, GSU coaches, athletic department staffers and Panther supporters walked from the Sports Arena to Hurt Park, and then back to the Sports Arena.
The Student-Athlete Advisory Committee is run by student-athletes and operates on behalf of Georgia State’s Athletic Department. Coaches select two student-athletes from each of the Panthers’ 15 athletic teams to serve as representatives.
“This is an excellent opportunity to promote SAAC and all that we do in the Athletic Department, said Jessica Summey, SAAC advisor. “We really want to try and make the walk an annual event at GSU. Hopefully we can build on this and the event will get bigger and bigger.”
On Jan. 12, Hunter coached his first barefoot game as the Panthers’ head coach in a win against UNC-Wilmington. He started a trend by coaching barefoot four years ago on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, and now many coaches have followed suit. His efforts have helped to put hundreds of thousands of shoes on the feet of children in the United States, Africa and South America.
With the notoriety of Hunter and his barefoot basketball games, SAAC saw that as a golden opportunity to also partner with the charity.
“Because our athletic department already has ties with Samaritan’s Feet through Coach Hunter and all the good work he’s done, SAAC decided it would be a good idea to join in with his efforts and support a great charity,” Spinks said.
The goal of Samaritan’s Feet is to put 10 million pairs of shoes on children’s feet in 10 years. As of today Samaritan’s Feet has placed new shoes on the feet of more than 3 million children around the world.
“Just to see a group of students, along with some of the support staff in the Athletic Department walking barefoot in the streets of Atlanta was an awesome sight,” Spinks said.
Feb. 21, 2012