UMKC men's basketball coach goes shoeless for a cause
Instead of just trying to score points, UMKC head men's basketball coach Matt Brown tried to snag shoes at a late January game against North Dakota State University (NDSU) at Municipal Auditorium.
Along with more than 300 basketball coaches across the country, Brown coached barefoot to collect shoes for Samaritan's Feet -- a Charlotte, N.C.-based organization dedicated to collecting shoes for impoverished children. According to Samaritan's Feet, more than 300 children go without shoes each day. In places like Guatemala, ringworm and other diseases afflict children who do not have shoes. Founded in 2003, Samaritan's Feet hopes to collect 1 million pairs of shoes in 2009.
When he first removed his shoes, Brown said the basketball court felt cold. But as the game progressed, Brown said he became accustomed to coaching barefoot.
"I think this is a great idea to help kids around the world who don't have shoes but also here in the States, as well as in places like Kansas City," said Brown, who has six young children. "I think people were appreciative of the opportunity to participate. I hope it will grow every year."
UMKC Kangaroos fans donated about 115 pairs of shoes. In exchange for donations, fans received discounts on lower-level seats.
Spencer Johnson, a sophomore forward from Champaign, Ill., said the UMKC men's basketball team supported Brown's participation in the fundraiser.
"I thought it was a good use of Coach Brown's time," Johnson said. "We didn't realize that there are so many people out there in the world who don't have shoes."
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis' (IUPUI) Ron Hunter was the first basketball coach to go barefoot for Samaritan’s Feet. As the only coach to go barefoot in 2008, Hunter received national attention.
To donate to Samaritan's Feet, log on to www.samaritansfeet.org. A $29.99 donation will provide two impoverished children with a new pair of shoes.
Posted: February 09, 2009