The Perfect Pumas
On November 12, 2016 my son, Ryan, served at his first and only distribution. One of my most memorable moments with Samaritans Feet was at that event when as he and I were packing up, he shared that he finally understood why my work with Samaritans Feet meant so much to me. And he said he was proud of me. Ryan was excited to serve at another event on April 25, 2018, but unfortunately, he passed away on April 10, 2018.
One year later, on April 10, 2019, the 1st anniversary of Ryan’s death, we were serving at a school in Minneapolis. Three weeks before the event, I saw a display of black Puma shoes, Ryan’s favorite, and began to cry. I purchased a pair in his size and planned to wash the feet of the student who would be blessed with these, and tell him Ryan’s story.
During the event, the school principal brought a young man over to meet me named Emmanuel (the same as the founder of Samaritan’s Feet). He was a tall quiet kid and I sat down to wash his feet and tell him about Ryan. I told him to focus on his dreams and to reach out to others if he ever needed help. At one point, we were both crying!
Later, the principal told me a little more of Emmanuel’s story: it was his first year in this school and his brother (and 8th grader) had been the victim of a random drive by shooting six months before but had survived. The bullet entered one side of his jaw, went out the other side, and by the grace of God, he survived with just a scar.
Two weeks later, I was consolidating boxes at a YMCA from previous shoe distributions in Minneapolis, when all of a sudden a basketball came flying past me! The young man who came over to get it saw me and said, “I know you. You washed my brother’s feet a couple of weeks ago!” This was the brother who had been shot.
A few minutes later, here came Emmanuel, smiling, laughing, and excited to see me. He gave me a big hug and thanked me again for the shoes, which he was wearing while shooting hoops. Then a YMCA staff member came over in tears. Emmanuel’s mom. She shared with me that her normally reserved son, who is one of 15, came home after the shoe distribution and told her about the people who came to school and washed their feet. He also told her all about Ryan. She told me, “you will never know the impact you had on my son.” She continued to share with me all about her family, the struggles they have had over the years, and about the shooting. By the time she finished, we were all in tears.
God always speaks to me when I least expect it. It is during times like these that I feel the power of His presence and His love, affirming the work that we do at Samaritan’s Feet. Every person whose life we have the opportunity to touch–from those we bless by washing their feet and providing a pair of shoes, to the volunteers who come together to serve, to all of the people we meet along the way, all of have a story worth telling.
Ready to help us create more stories of hope and inspiration just like this?