LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 2, 2013) — The Third Annual University of Kentucky Track and Field Shoe Drive is under way from now through May 10.
Founded by former Wildcat track competitor Josh Nadzam, now pursuing his master's degree in social work, and current standout Luis Orta, who completed his bachelor's degree this past December, the pair was then joined by teammate Hiruni Wijayaratne. The first edition of the drive in 2011 resulted in 2,100 pairs of shoes being collected for people in developing countries.
"This all started from an epiphany that Luis and I had when he realized we were wastefully discarding wearable shoes in the trash," Nadzam said. "As distance runners, we have to replace our shoes every 400-500 miles; we run anywhere from 60-80 miles a week so you can see this adds up quickly. Luis came to me with the idea that instead of throwing the shoes away what if we collected them and sent them to countries with citizens who have never owned a pair of shoes."
Nadzam, Orta, and Wijayaratne collected shoes in a somewhat haphazard fashion that first year, spreading the word through Facebook, Twitter, email, and any other form of communication they could think of. The trio partnered with Soles4Souls, a nonprofit organization in Nashville that collects shoes and ships them to over 126 different countries.
In 2012, the shoe drive was expanded to the entire Southeastern Conference (SEC). "At UK, we collected 2,900 pairs of shoes and over 13,000 pairs throughout the SEC," said Nadzam. "This year we hope to make it our biggest shoe drive yet."
Nadzam cites the selfless help of many teammates, coaches, friends, and community members in enabling the shoe drive to become such a success. He is particularly grateful for the support of UK Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart and first-year Wildcat head track and field coach Edrick Floreal.
"We are collecting any kind of shoes in any condition, any size, and any gender," Nadzam added. "We currently have on-campus collection sites at the Johnson Recreation Center, the Center for Academic and Tutorial Services (CATS, located in Memorial Coliseum), Shively Training Center (next to Cliff Hagan Baseball Stadium), and the Patterson Office Tower on the sixth floor. We also have an off-campus collection site at the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG) located at 200 East Main Street."
For additional information, visit www.uktrackandfieldshoedrive.com.
MEDIA CONTACT: Carl Nathe, (859) 257-3200; firstname.lastname@example.org;
Josh Nadzam, (859) 868-8868; email@example.com.