Over 30 years ago, a young Nigerian boy, Manny Ohonme, received his first pair of shoes at the age of nine. It changed his life and now he wants to give to others that same opportunity for change and impact. Samaritan’s Feet wants to inspire hope through the gift of shoes, the act of washing feet, and encouragement to those who need it most. People without shoes face dangers like laceration, fungus, and insect bites that can lead to infection, disease, and even death. Children with no shoes are often not allowed entrance to education in many countries and can find their way into slavery, or unsafe and inexcusable child labor environments. Since our founding in 2003, Samaritan’s Feet and its partners have distributed over 6.8 million pairs of shoes in 108 countries and 385 U.S. cities.
By working with Jon Hessler, he’ll donate 5% of my commission in my clients name to Samaritans Feet. The proceeds are earmarked to help local Charlotte kids. My campaign is geared at raising funds and bringing awareness to our area.
Do you want to know why he’s donating 5% of his commission to Samaritans feet? As a kid, Jon grew up in a lower socio-economic family. He didn’t really know what that meant until later in life. Back then, he enjoyed the simple things in life. Hanging out with friends, riding jos bike, playing outside and playing sports. If anyone had a main sport, his was baseball. He played his entire life and eventually he got involved with other sports.
He’ll never forget the day he was recruited by Coach Pung to run cross country his junior year of high school. She told him that the team had a good chance at winning state, thanks to a solid coaching staff and a group of guys that forever changed his life. He would have been crazed not to at least try. So, there he was – he showed up to the first practice, uninformed and uneducated about running. He laced up his casual tennis shoes and off into the trails of Western North Carolina. A few months and hundred miles later, he started getting severe pain in his shins. The pain hindered his ability to be competitive and stalled his performance and growth. His high school coach noticed and started investigating why he had developed shin splints. As a result, she lightened his run load, gave him time off, stretched him out, gave me pointers, all of which he did, but none that eased the pain.
As Coach Pung took a deeper look she noticed that his casual day-to-day shoes were extremely worn down. She recommended he purchase new shoes, so he did. The shoes he bought were still inadequate for the miles he had put on them. The shoes he needed were to be customized to the way he ran and were priced well above what his family has ever paid for shoes. Being from a lower socioeconomic family, it was difficult to drop $150 on a pair of shoes that would last 4 months, so I decided not to burden my parents. He told Coach Pung his decision and a few weeks lapsed and my coach pulls his aside. In her hands she has a shoe box. She had him try on brand new Asic running shoes and they felt amazing. He felt the support and comfort of not only the shoes, but from his coach.
The idea of having her support changed and impacted his life forever. He likes to think that she was part of the reason he is who he is today. She wasn’t just a coach that gave him a pair of shoes. She was a coach that genuinely cared about making him great, who gave him a pair of shoes. He was part of an outstanding team that traveled to state and won in 2015. He graduated with a Business Management degree at UNC Charlotte and commissioned as an Officer in the U.S. Army. He then went into the hospitality industry as a Sales Manager and three years later found himself running a successful and profitable sales department at a hotel in Downtown Asheville. He started my own Marketing and Sales business and now he is working as a Realtor serving hardworking citizens and making sure people make great decisions for their future.
What is he doing to support the cause now? To raise awareness to this issue, I’m wearing sparkling glitter shoes that are attention grabbing during my work day. The shoes are a way for me to have a conversation and gives me a chance me to talk about my initiatives with Samaritans feet.
Your donation below will help serve all 650 students at an elementary school with new shoes and a message of hope.