Memoirs of the barefoot


Ed Hille/ MCT

The proverbial saying of “walk a mile in their shoes” took on a different meaning at Fresno State this Thursday, April 8 when participants opted to go barefoot to promote TOMS “One Day Without Shoes” event.

The nationwide event, endorsed by TOMS shoes, aimed to create awareness of what life is like for many children in developing countries growing up barefoot. The “One Day Without Shoes” rallied to get people to experience the impact a pair of shoes can make.

The Smittcamp Family Honors College hosted the event after Smittcamp Honors student Alyssa Smith pitched the idea. After receiving a pair of TOMS shoes last year as a birthday gift, she was moved to learn more about the shoe company when she discovered the April 8 event.

“It’s really good for people to experience it because we’re choosing to do this for one day but there are other people that this is their life,” Smith said.

Volunteers set up a table with fliers and a banner, embellished with foot prints, for students to sign to show their support in the Free Speech area. Word of the event reached students all across campus who may not have even walked by the table.

“People are walking all around campus and it’s kind of cool because they’re kind of advertising for us by not having any shoes on their feet,” she said. “I’ve heard a lot of people say ‘Oh I love going barefoot, I’m totally doing this.’ But going barefoot all day, your feet kind of hurt, you have to watch out for rocks and things like that. It’s definitely a fun kind of thing to do but it also really makes you think about it.”

Smith, a self-professed fan of going barefoot, said going without shoes for the entire day was more difficult than she thought it was going to be.

“It really makes a big difference how important shoes really aware because they protect your feet,” she said. “Being able to walk a whole day without a pair of shoes really makes you realize how important shoes are. We just so happen to have beautiful weather where other places it’s raining, snowing, muddy, really hot; it’s a lot harder than I think it sounds.”

Andrea Torres, a TOMS campus rep for Fresno State, said the event not only got students involved in the movement but also created an outlet for students to sign up for the TOMS Campus Club she’s trying to start. She said she was surprised at how much her feet hurt going barefoot.

“It hurts for a very long time but then your feet become so numb that you don’t feel it,” Torres explained. “You don’t realize how bad you’re hurting them, but I looked and I had blood on my feet. It’s like these little kids probably have like no feeling in their feet but they’re getting them torn up while they’re running around and everything.”

Nicole Kimura, a biology and psychology major, was a volunteer but also participated in the event first-hand by going barefoot all day. She had a variety of experiences from noticing how uncomfortable her bike pedals were when she rode to school to not being able to go into the residence dining hall.

“I’m more aware of the materials I’m on and watching out for rocks and garbage and stuff like that,” Kimura said. “I went to the Starbucks in the library and the floor was kind of sticky. It wasn’t sticky enough to notice with shoes but things like that. I couldn’t imagine having no shoes and no money to buy shoes.”

To learn more about TOMS shoes and their “One for One” program visit their Web site at www.toms.com.

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