Students take a barefoot “Walk” through town
April 8, 2010 By Leigh Ivey
Walk, organized by the TOMS Club of Centre.
The purpose of The Walk was not to collect donations but to make
people aware of the health hazards of going barefoot. “Before
TOMS, I never knew just how serious a condition ‘barefooted-
ness’ can be, but having to live without shoes can cause some
debilitating diseases,” says Mary Trollinger ’11.
On Thursday, April 8, visitors to downtown Danville may have been surprised to see dozens of Centre students strolling barefoot down the sidewalks.
Organized by the founders of the Centre College TOMS Club, “The Walk”—from the College’s Campus Center to downtown and back—was organized to raise awareness of the health hazards of going barefoot, something the TOMS Shoes organization strives to eliminate.
TOMS Shoes was founded in 2006 with one simple premise: for every pair of shoes purchased, the company gives a pair of new shoes to a child in need. This philanthropic mission immediately attracted the attention of four Centre students, and last fall, they became founding members of the Centre TOMS Club.
“The four of us—Elizabeth Trollinger ’11, Elizabeth Berryman ’12, Laura Bramblett ’12 and myself—really love TOMS and their mission to provide shoes to kids who need them,” Mary Trollinger ’11 says. “Before TOMS, I never knew just how serious a condition ‘barefooted-ness’ can be, but having to live without shoes can cause some debilitating diseases, such as podoconiosis, which has affected approximately one million people in Ethiopia and is completely preventable with basic hygiene and shoes. It’s such a big problem with such an easy solution, and the four of us love how TOMS is going about providing that solution.”
(Podoconiosis, or non-filarial endemic elephantiasis of the lower legs, is a medical condition caused by the presence of microscopic, thread-like parasitic worms that are absorbed through the feet. The disease is common in regions where barefootedness is common and is characterized by the thickening of the skin and underlying tissues, especially in the legs.)
Since TOMS was founded, proponents of the organization have organized “The Walks,” events during which crowds gather to walk a mile (more or less) without shoes.
Having gone on several of these Walks in the past, Mary and Elizabeth Trollinger were eager to organize an event in Danville.
“We aren't trying to raise any funds through The Walk, just awareness,” Trollinger says. “The purpose is really to give people a small glimpse into what a life without shoes is like and to inspire the wider community to be involved by seeing a large group of people in town going without shoes, together. It's a way to make people aware, and it’s a fun way to band together for the cause. That being said, if the Walk inspires people to donate to TOMS or buy a pair of shoes, that's great! But its sole purpose is not fundraising, and neither is the purpose of the TOMS club at Centre.”
Despite the dreary weather, nearly 50 members of the Centre community participated in The Walk.
And although the Day Without Shoes has come to an end, Trollinger hopes the event’s message will not soon be forgotten.
“If we act together on behalf of those in the world who lack the basic necessity of shoes, we truly can be part of the solution in providing them what they need,” she says. “We can be the change we want to see in the world!”