Shoeless for Haiti

Travis Kriens

Travis Kriens

The Jan.12 earthquake that devastated parts of Haiti hit close to home for SDSU men’s basketball coach Scott Nagy.

In September 2005, Nagy and his wife Janie adopted six-year-old Naika from an orphanage in Haiti, changing their family of six to a family of seven.

Nagy received news that all 26 children currently at the orphanage were safely flown to the United States for adoption last week, but he has yet to find out if Naika’s mother survived the earthquake.

Although the estimated death toll is between 50,000 and 200,000 people, Nagy has confidence in the strength of Haiti’s people.

“They are a very tough group of people (that) have been through a lot, and I know they will come through this,” Nagy said.

An Associated Press article on Jan. 19 started a snowball effect that caused a national media frenzy surrounding Nagy. He was featured on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines,” an article, and in interviews with WCCO Radio in Minneapolis and AM 700 WLW in Cincinnati. Also, CNN and the ABC Nightly News took notice of Nagy and his efforts.

“I know that being the coach at South Dakota State and having a daughter from Haiti provides me with a very unique platform and opportunity to help the people from Haiti,” Nagy said.

Samaritan’s Feet is a non-profit ministry whose goal is to provide shoes to those in need. Nagy has raised money and donated shoes with the organization since 2008, and now he has targeted his efforts specifically toward helping the people of Haiti.

Nagy said that he and his wife saw the need for shoes first-hand when they traveled to Haiti.

“It’s heartbreaking to see so many kids without shoes, so we jumped at the opportunity to champion this cause,” Nagy said.

Nagy coached barefoot for the second season in row during the game against Oakland Jan. 23. His goal was to raise $30,000 and get 2,000 pairs of shoes. Part of the game’s ticket sales as well as donations from SDSU corporate sponsors were given to the relief effort.

“My hope is that people’s support for Haiti will go beyond just a few weeks when it stays in the news and mind of everybody,” Nagy said. “This is a long-term thing, and they are going to need our help.”

Anyone interested in donating can text SHOES to 85944, which automatically adds $5 to your next phone bill. Donations from the 605 area code go specifically to Haiti for earthquake relief efforts and can also be made online at or at any Finish Line store throughout the country.