BLUFFTON, Ohio—Three Bluffton University football players helped distribute shoes to 230 students at Padua Academy in Indianapolis on Jan. 13 as part of an effort coordinated by Samaritan’s Feet International and the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference.
Bluffton junior Eric Fox of Brunswick, Ohio, and seniors Shawn Frost of Edison, Ohio, and Josh Runda of Lima, Ohio, were among this season’s first-team all-HCAC players who traveled to Indianapolis with their coaches for the event. The student-athletes washed the children’s feet and gave them new socks before fitting them with the new shoes.
The conference raised roughly $7,000 during the 2013 football season for Samaritan’s Feet. The Charlotte, N.C.-based charitable organization believes a new pair of shoes “can be a tangible foundation of hope to a person in need,” according to its website.
About $1,000 of the total raised throughout the HCAC was generated at Bluffton. On Nov. 2, Bluffton hosted one of the games designated as a “Barefoot Game”—in which coaches go shoeless—to bring attention to the cause.
Bluffton head coach Tyson Veidt called the Jan. 13 event “as emotional an experience as you could be involved in.” Veidt accompanied his players to Padua Academy, a school for students through eighth grade, following breakfast at the national NCAA headquarters nearby. “Simply for these young people to have visitors who wanted to spend time with them was huge,” he added.
Noting that the Bluffton players represented the university well, Veidt also said, “we definitely want to build from our beginning efforts and continue this event” with Samaritan’s Feet. The organization’s partnership with the HCAC is its first with an entire NCAA conference.