September 26, 2017

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Athletes donate shoes to provide kids with sound footing

They waited like runners at the starting line with their eyes on the prize, which in this case was a row of boxes, heaping with shoes.

When the kids got the go-ahead, they raced over to pick up pairs they’d been eyeing during the news conference, when Canada Games representatives announced a donation of more than 400 pairs of running shoes to the Boys and Girls Club of Winnipeg.

“We’re celebrating the fact that these shoes represent possibility,” said program director Michelle Schmidt.

“They represent the fact that kids can now gain confidence as they learn a new skill. They can build relationships, they can learn about teamwork and ultimately our goal is that they become contributing members of society that are healthy and that love being active and care about their community.”

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They waited like runners at the starting line with their eyes on the prize, which in this case was a row of boxes, heaping with shoes.

When the kids got the go-ahead, they raced over to pick up pairs they’d been eyeing during the news conference, when Canada Games representatives announced a donation of more than 400 pairs of running shoes to the Boys and Girls Club of Winnipeg.

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Ontario’s Nick Snow (left) and B.C.’s Michelle Collens (right) were on hand Thursday as their teams donated shoes to the Boys and Girls Club. Recipients include (back row from left) Emmanuel Olugbodi and Feranmi; (front row from left) Faith Odunayo, 14, and Dupe Abajesude, 11.</p></p>

BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Ontario’s Nick Snow (left) and B.C.’s Michelle Collens (right) were on hand Thursday as their teams donated shoes to the Boys and Girls Club. Recipients include (back row from left) Emmanuel Olugbodi and Feranmi; (front row from left) Faith Odunayo, 14, and Dupe Abajesude, 11.

"We’re celebrating the fact that these shoes represent possibility," said program director Michelle Schmidt.

"They represent the fact that kids can now gain confidence as they learn a new skill. They can build relationships, they can learn about teamwork and ultimately our goal is that they become contributing members of society that are healthy and that love being active and care about their community."

Leading up to the Games, Team BC and Team Ontario athletes pooled together new or gently used running shoes, with contributions from Alberta and Nunavut.

The Leave Your Tracks project will benefit kids at the Boys and Girls Club in Winnipeg, a non-profit that provides resources and programming for youth.

One of those beneficiaries is 15-year-old Feranmi.

"My goal is to use basketball to propel me to go high in my education. I’m thinking about kinesiology and going into athletic therapy," the high school student said.

Feranmi said he will sport the new shoes when he returns to school in a few weeks, "but not outside — just on the court to keep them new, keep them nice," he laughed.

Pulling his current pair of basketball shoes out of a backpack, it’s clear why the bright red Nikes on his feet, which retail for about $100, need to be preserved.

"As you see, they are very dirty because they’ve been overplayed," he said.

Feranmi received one of 30 pairs of shoes donated by Nike, explained Nick Snow, assistant chef de mission for Team Ontario.

"Shoes are huge. Literally they are the base of everything you’re doing, from when you leave the house in the morning until you get home at night. If you have a bad pair of shoes or you don’t have shoes at all, it impacts everything, especially for young kids," said Snow.

Inside each of the Nike boxes, there’s a note from a Canada Games athlete.

Snow pulls out the note inside Feranmi’s box.

It’s signed "Katie #4" and reads "Congrats and I hope you enjoy your new shoes! Keep on working hard and shooting for the stars. You got this."

keila.depape@freepress.mb.ca

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