Nagy bares his soles to support needy feet

Travis Kriens

Travis Kriens

SDSU men’s head basketball coach Scott Nagy will coach barefoot on Jan. 23, 2009 – when the Jackrabbits host North Dakota State at Frost Arena – to raise shoes and money for children in the Caribbean and South America.

Donations will be accepted starting on Oct. 17 at the Jackrabbits Midnight Minus Two event through Feb. 1, 2009.

Coach Nagy hopes to acquire thousands of pairs of new shoes, preferably sizes three to nine, to distribute to needy children in Haiti and Suriname, South America.

Samaritan’s Feet, a Charlotte-based charity, was founded by Manny Ohonme in 2003. Its mission statement is, “An international ministry focused on bringing a life-changing message of hope to youths and children through sports and recreational adventures. We provide relief to hurting people displaced due to poverty, ravaged wars and religious persecution. We demonstrate compassion by washing and equipping their feet with shoes.”

“Anyone can donate either money or shoes,” said Nagy. “We will have boxes around town and a few on campus. We have not placed those yet, but I know for sure we will have one or two here at the HPER (Stanley J. Marshall HPER Center). Shoes can be put in at anytime.”

Donating shoes is not the only way to help with the cause.

“If people would like to donate money, they can write the check to Samaritan’s Feet and give it to anyone on the men’s basketball staff. We will send it straight to Samaritan’s Feet,” said Nagy. “They in turn will send a receipt to the address on the check.”

Nagy said that he got the idea from IUPUI men’s head coach Ron Hunter when Hunter gained national recognition for going barefoot during a game to raise awareness for needy children in Africa.

Hunter generated donations of more than 100,000 pairs of shoes for impoverished children. The coach appeared on several ESPN shows and secured donations of thousands of shoes from Converse, Wal-Mart, Nine West and the Department of Homeland Security.

“When I saw what they were doing, I immediately thought about my own experiences with our daughter (who is adopted from Haiti) and the children in Haiti,” said Nagy. “Matt Thorn works for the National Guard and got me in contact with Tracy Settle, who runs the program for the projects they do for Suriname. We thought together we could definitely get a lot accomplished.”

“Imagine if every coach would pick a game to coach barefoot and use their influence,” Ohonme told the Indianapolis Star. “We’d exceed our goals pretty quickly.

“We have very high goals for numbers of shoes, but the fact of the matter is if we raise any, it is a success,” said Nagy. “My hope is to put thousands upon thousands of shoes in the hands of Samaritan’s Feet so they can help these kids.”

Nagy hopes that this is not just a one-time event and that others at SDSU will get involved with the program.

“We hope that we can continue some sort of relationship with the South Dakota National Guard and Samaritan’s Feet every year,” said Nagy. “We would really love to see organizations on campus really get involved with this and make it a campus-wide project.”

Editor’s Note: Scott Nagy can be reached through his SDSU email: [email protected].