Participants going barefoot in Oct. 19 walk-a-thon

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Western Carolina University will hold a walk-a-thon unlike most others on Monday, Oct. 19, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Catamount Athletic Complex ― participants will go barefoot.

The event is to raise awareness for a campus collaboration with Samaritan’s Feet, a humanitarian group dedicated to distributing shoes to impoverished communities around the world.

WCU junior Josh Vance leaves a footprint commitment for Samaritan’s Feet outside A.K. Hinds University Center.

WCU junior Josh Vance leaves a footprint commitment for Samaritan’s Feet outside A.K. Hinds University Center.

“There’s an old proverb that says to truly know someone, walk a mile in their shoes,” said Lane Perry, director of the WCU Center for Service Learning and an event organizer. “But 1.5 billion people around the world walk without decent shoes. This walk-a-thon will help us understand their plight, as we raise awareness and support for our work with Samaritan’s Feet.”

The “Catamount Walkabout: Whee Will Walk You!” walk-a-thon starts immediately following the Homecoming 2015 kick-off. The public is invited to join WCU students, faculty and staff in the walk-a-thon, Perry said. A DJ will provide music, hot chocolate will be served, and learning stations about Africa, the focus of WCU’s two-year interdisciplinary academic learning theme, will be set up along the track.

“I enjoy the idea of mission work and community service,” said Josh Vance, a WCU junior from Denver who plans to participate. “I have visited Africa, so I understand the inspiration for Samaritan’s Feet and fell in love with the purpose of it.”

Other community efforts have continued the barefoot theme, in efforts to draw attention to and raise money for Samaritan’s Feet to purchase and provide shoes. Student volunteers recently manned a booth outside A.K. Hinds University Center, where each donors’ barefoot sole was painted purple and imprinted on paper, with the imprint signed by the donor, as a demonstration of commitment to the cause. Donors’ feet were then washed to remove the paint.

The partnership with Samaritan’s Feet is a campus project, with many opportunities for grassroots involvement of students, staff, faculty and the greater community. To learn more, contact Perry at laneperry@wcu.edu or 828-227-2643.