Supporter Highlight: John Scislow and His Barefoot Fraternity
By Marketing and PR Intern Seth Crawford
It all started with a question posed at a leadership conference.
“What can you do today to change the world?”
North Dakota senior John Scislow was consumed by the question for the rest of the day, staying up until three in the morning, thinking of what he could actually do to make a positive impact on the world. In the early morning hours, he had settled on an idea. He was going to go barefoot in order to raise money to give shoes to those who couldn’t afford them. But he wasn’t going to do it alone. He enlisted the help of his 50 fraternity brothers in Delta Tau Delta.
John said he met with the fraternity’s philanthropy chair and the idea grew from there.
“We had been looking for a philanthropy idea to do in the spring, but we didn’t think we’d get anything pulled together,” Scislow said. “We went from an idea to putting it on in about 2 weeks.”
After perusing the Internet for organizations to which they could dedicate their fundraiser, Samaritan’s Feet caught their eye. Its central focus of raising money and awareness through barefoot initiatives and the ability to put a pair of shoes on a child’s feet anywhere in the world for just $10 are what stood out to the Delta Tau Delta brothers.
“Their mission and the Barefoot for Bare Feet idea fit perfectly with what we wanted to do,” Scislow said via email message.
It was decided that John and three of his fraternity brothers, Mike Zastoupil, Zach Ficenec and Robbie Lauf would run the Fargo Marathon Relay barefoot. Although John and Robbie ran track in high school, running barefoot was an entirely different ball game.
The training for the marathon was inconsistent and infrequent due to the cold, rainy climate of North Dakota and the ever-constant demands of college life. However, the guys were able to get in a few barefoot runs resulting in soreness and blisters, but nothing that discouraged them from their goal.
Leading up to the marathon, the fraternity came together to go barefoot for nearly two weeks, from April 10-20. University health codes prevented them from going to classes barefoot, but to stay true to the sentiment, Scislow wore his FiveFingers shoes.
Scislow was encouraged by the support and backing he got from his fraternity brothers. During the barefoot period about half of the guys went barefoot for at least a day or two.
“There were a couple days when it was cold and rainy and it was rough going on the wet pavement,” Scislow said.
After three days the bottoms of his feet were purple and battered.
Next year — Yes, Delta Tau Delta is doing it again — Scislow hopes to involve the campus more through barefoot activities.
When the day of the race came, the four relay partners were excited to culminate the months of fundraising and barefoot living.
“The crowd support was really great,” Scislow said, “People were offering us shoes to take and run.”
Three of the guys had such a good time during their leg of the marathon that they jumped back in later in the race and ran more. Three of the runners ended up running more than 10 barefoot miles.
The fundraising hasn’t been completed and fully counted yet, but Scislow said he thinks they will end up with somewhere around $1,500. Although Scislow is graduating, the experience of going barefoot to make a difference in the lives of people, who don’t have things that most take for granted, has made him committed to helping out with the fundraiser next year.
It just took the gentle push of a fundamental question.
“What’s one thing you can do today to change the world?”