Every year, the marketing strategies class of the Craig School of Business aims to break a Guinness World Record, but this year, a shoe drive titled “Sole Train 2014” put Fresno on the map by setting a record.
A team of 12 students partnered with Fresno State’s Vintage Days and local businesses and collected 16,000 shoes, or 8,000 pairs of shoes, surpassing its goal of 10,000. The shoes were placed in the shape of a world map on the lawn east of the Science II Building.
“This is the first place in the world to create the largest map made of shoes,” said Bianca Mancilla, Sole Train team coordinator. “We wanted to put Fresno on the map in a positive way.”
The team was comprised of Mancilla, Amy Bachmeyer, Andrew Esguerra, Megan Souza, Amy Yang, Wendy Moua, Chris Simons, Shelby Davidson, Veronica Sandoval, Cameron Jones, Afona Gebre and Nick Gargan.
The 12 students were part of Dr. William Rice’s marketing strategies class, which aims to break a Guinness World Record every semester. Nick Gargan, a Sole Train team member, said Rice encouraged the team to set a goal that would benefit the community.
All of the shoes collected were donated to nine local nonprofit organizations, including the Poverello House, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Highway City.
After its first meeting of the semester, the team came up with four proposals to submit to Rice, Mancilla said. The Sole Train proposal began as the goal of creating the longest “train” of shoes. But after she took a trip to Hawaii, Mancilla said the idea of creating a map emerged.
The team created a Sole Train Gmail account and social media accounts to promote the campaign, gather donations and track progress.
Shoes were mailed from near and far. Packages with shoes had return addresses from Washington, Oregon and Georgia as well as northern and southern California, Mancilla said. On average, each donation was about 20 shoes, with one of the largest being 1,500 from Mendota.
The Sole Train team partnered with Fresno State’s 40th Vintage Days for the last leg of the campaign. Vintage Days visitors brought shoes and dropped them off at the event Friday and Saturday. The event created even more local awareness for the cause and drew thousands of potential donors.
But there were a few setbacks on Saturday, Gargan said, the biggest being the rain in the morning.
“The weather on Saturday was a drawback. We had to wait for the rain to pass,” he said. “But we stayed focus and got the job done.”
The map was finished Sunday and measured about 70 feet tall by about 140 feet wide.
“It felt great to complete such a large project,” Gargan said. “It had a lot of beneficial results, not only for us but also for the community.”
The successful world record attempts are not official until Guinness verifies formal claims, which can take several weeks. The students are required to provide evidence such as logs, official witness statements and photos/videos to Guinness.
Since the final verification comes long after the semester ends, Rice grades the students on accomplishing stated goals and executing business practices for a successful marketing campaign using real world experiences.
Successful Fresno State attempts confirmed by Guinness include the world’s largest fruit salad in fall 2011 and the world’s largest smoothie in spring 2012.