Tuesday, May 10, 2016

50 for 50 Birthday Extravaganza

I really like my shoes. For several years now I’ve bought Altra brand shoes. They’re good for my arthritic feet. And they’re not too expensive - around $100. Of course I don’t have just one pair. I have a pair for everyday wear, a pair for exercising, and a pair for mowing the lawn (you should see how dirty those are). But like most Americans, I need shoes and just one pair won’t cut it.

 Do you have more than one pair of shoes? I’m guessing you do. And I’m guessing that you might have closer to ten pairs. Some of my friends have as many dozens of pairs as I have pairs (don’t worry, I won’t name names). What if I told you that you could buy a pair of shoes for just $15? You might wonder how well they were made, or how attractive they were. But these $15 shoes are designed to last. They are well-built and kind of stylish.

 Here in America, and the rest of the first world, shoes are taken for granted. We wear them for comfort, for fashion and style, for political statements - and countless other reasons. For us, taking our shoes off is a joy. When we get home we take off our shoes, feel the carpet, walk in the grass, feel the beach sand between our toes. Being able to take off our shoes is a joy.

 In some parts of the world, shoes are not ubiquitous. In fact, in some areas, shoes are rare. Children in poor countries often walk around bare foot. While their parents may have built up callouses over a lifetime of barefoot walking, children’s feet are still tender and soft, susceptible to cuts and scrapes. A small cut might not seem like a big deal to us - we just put on a bandaid. But in these poor countries, there are no bandaids in the medicine cabinet. While we walk on our manicured lawns or carpeted floors, they walk on soil and in water contaminated with parasites and bacteria. That small cut on their foot is an invitation to infection, and many of these infections are literally life-threatening.

 Remember that $15 pair of shoes? Think about the benefits of that one pair of shoes. That child can now walk to school (where shoes are sometimes required), or to the well, or to help the family farm or ranch. They can walk and play and run and dance without worrying about getting an infection.

 Of course there is another problem with shoes for kids. These great shoes we just bought them, that fit perfectly today, won’t fit a year from now. They might not even fit six months from now. Their feet grow constantly and quickly. Children all over the world end up cutting open the front of their shoes to allow room for their toes. Cutting open the shoe lets them wear the shoes for a few more months.

 What if we could give them a shoe that would grow when their feet grow? Wouldn’t that be something?

 Well we can. Kenton Lee, founder of Because International, invented “The Shoe that Grows.” It’s designed to grow five sizes. That $15 pair of shoes I mentioned earlier can now last for five years. Three dollars a year for shoes that protect from cuts, scrapes, parasites and bacteria. Fifteen dollars to provide a pair of shoes for one child, for five years. That sounds like an amazing thing to me.

 This year I’m turning 50 years old. That’s a big milestone. Normally I’ve never been one to celebrate my birthday with a big party. I don’t particularly like cake and candles, or people singing to me. It’s embarrassing to celebrate myself. But 50 feels like a big deal and worth celebrating. However, you might also be aware that I’ve spent the last 15 years or so decluttering my life. I certainly don’t want people giving me gifts. But I would like my friends, family and even people I don’t know, to have the opportunity to give in celebration of my birthday.

 Instead of giving me a gift, how about giving a pair of shoes to child in need? In fact, how about giving $50 in honor of my 50th birthday? Now that sounds like a great idea.

 Which is exactly what I’m asking from you, my friend. Will you help provide shoes in honor of my birthday?

 On July 23, 2016, I’m going to have a public birthday celebration. It won’t just be me though. Several of my friends are also turning 50 this year: Kenny Becker, Scott Bullock, Brad Swartzentruber, Scott Daniels, and Brent Carpenter. There are probably others I’ve missed. In fact, if you’re turning 50 this year, I would love to have you celebrate with us. If you’re interested in being part of this party, please contact me and I’ll fill you in.

 Over the next few weeks, I’ll be contacting most of my friends, through facebook, or email, or in person. I’m hoping to get in touch with all of you, but if for some reason I miss you, please contact me. I want to include everyone.

 Some of you have more financial resources than others. But even the “richest” people I know still have limited funds. No one I know has unlimited funds and we all have to prioritize how we use our money. For some of you, I’ll be asking you to cover the price of 50 pairs of shoes, or even 100. For others of you, even paying for one pair of shoes will be a stretch. Whether you can donate $1500 or 50 cents, I will be so happy to have you involved.

 Give what you can, help however you can. If you can’t afford to donate, please consider sharing this opportunity with your friends and family. My social circle only extends so far. But your social circle goes so much farther than mine alone. Together, we could provide shoes for so many children. We could impact so many lives, all because I’ve lived half a century. Please consider paying for a pair of shoes, or 3 pairs, or 10 pairs, or 100 pairs. If you’d like to cover the price of a million pairs of shoes - I’d be happy to send that money on to Kenton and Because International.

 There are several ways for you to give.

 You can donate online on the Because International website. I’ve set up a fundraising page just for our 50th birthday. You can find that page here: http://fundraise.theshoethatgrows.org/fifty4fifty
You can send a check directly to Because International: 216 12th Ave N., Nampa, ID 83687
You can hand me a check in person and I’ll deliver it to Kenton at Because International
You can donate on the day of our birthday party. You can come to our party and give some money directly to Kenton (or one of his wonderful coworkers).

 If you’ve read this whole thing: WOW!!!
Thank you for sticking with me.

 I’m glad you’re my friend.

Here's a link to our birthday event on Facebook:

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