By Joe Mellenbruch
Published in the Devils Lake Journal January 30, 2014
This Sunday, Lake Region State College Basketball will welcome in Williston State for a Mon-Dak conference battle, and in most respects, the games will be carried out just like any other contest.
But on Sunday, more than one pair of bare feet will grace the court in honor of a movement inspired by a former Lake Region State College alumnus.
Samaritan’s Feet, an overarching shoe distribution initiative, is a movement inspired by Emmanuel Ohonme, a 1991 graduate of LRSC, and this weekend, his efforts will stretch out to a number of regional colleges, including Lake Region State on Sunday afternoon.
LRSC coaches, and Williston State coaches, as well, will manage their respective games without shoes or socks, a symbolic gesture to a cause that has offered assistance to millions of children worldwide.
For anyone interested in giving to this cause, donations will be accepted at the LRSC bookstore and at any Lake Region State athletic office. At the games on Sunday, the college’s student senate will have a table set up at which they will be accepting donations.
As far as shoe donations, LRSC is asking for new or slightly used pairs. For those without shoes to offer, monetary donations of $10 or more will also be welcomed. In either case, those who donate will be gifted an orange Samaritan’s Feet sweatband.
The overarching goal of this movement is simple: acquire 2,014 pairs of shoes in 2014 for North Dakota children in need.
“First of all, it’s a great cause,” said LRSC men’s coach Joe Kittell, who has admittedly never coached a game without shoes. “We also thought it was important that, if Lake Region got asked to do this, something that schools like NDSU and UND are getting involved in, that’s a privilege for us.”
This will be the first year that Lake Region State has gotten involved with the Samaritan’s Feet organization, and though the games haven’t even been played yet, the school is already planning to get involved next season, as well, according to Danny Mertens, LRSC assistant athletic director.
“With Emmanuel being an alumnus of Lake Region State, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be involved with this every year,” Mertens said.
The Barefoot Coaching Program is already in its seventh year this winter. It all started with one coach, former IUPUI head basketball coach and current Georgia State head coach, Ron Hunter, who said yes to something that has changed the lives of children around the world.
Samaritan’s Feet and its partners are hoping to provide 10 million pairs of shoes to children over the next 10 years. Since 2003, the organization has blessed over four million children in more than 60 nations.
The games with Williston State tip off this Sunday afternoon, starting with the women’s game at 1 p.m. followed by the men’s game at 3.