Monday, September 22, 2008

Shoes for a Cause

A West Michigan mom is giving back to a cause close to her son's heart. In honor of his spirit, Kathy Hoard will collect shoes for Soles4Souls.

The program hasn't even been officially kicked off, but already there is a bin full of donated shoes. Organizers are hoping that once more folks hear the story, they'll want to add to the pile.

Two years ago in November, Kathy Hoard's 12-year-old son's heart stopped working. No one can tell her how he died, but Kathy will tell folks how he lived.

"He just had a big heart, everybody liked him, we called him Harry" Kathy said, "He was just really focused on people that were less fortunate for him."

For his tenth birthday, Harry used his own money to buy a new pair of shoes for a less fortunate classmate. It was that generosity that inspired Kathy to bring Soles4Souls to West Michigan.

Kathy has teamed up with Gazelle Sports to collect as many pairs of shoes as possible.

"It's really about all of us stepping up and doing what you can," said Rob Lillie of Gazelle Sports.

"Everbody has shoes in their closet they're not using," said Kathy, "so I think it's a really neat way for everybody to remember Harry."

The shoes will go to folks in West Michigan, Lillie expects that they'll collect thousands in October alone.

"A lot of people only can give what they can give," Lillie said, "and this is an easy way to utilize things that you're finished with for a good cause."

That good cause has helped Kathy cope with a loss that no parent should have to experience.

"When you lose something, go through a tragedy such as losing a child you want something to pull you out of the grieving process and hopefully this is the beginning of something pretty cool," said Kathy.

Folks interested in donating can bring new or gently used shoes to Gazelle Sports locations in Kalamazoo, Grand Rapids and Holland.

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