University News

Walking barefoot to support a global cause

Staff Writer
Friday, April 9, 2010

Before walking into a restaurant Thursday night, Sarah Grimm ’12 put her shoes back on after spending 12 hours barefoot. Like thousands of people across the country, Grimm joined Toms Shoes’ invitation to walk barefoot in an effort to show the world the inescapable reality that more than 300 million children experience.

“I realized how lucky I am to have the opportunity to put on a pair of shoes,” Grimm said. “This is really good for putting things into perspective.” 

Kevin Cervantes ’10, the campus representative for Toms, said “it’s not about putting yourself in their shoes. It’s about putting yourself in their lack of shoes.” 

According to Cervantes, it doesn’t matter if people take their shoes off for a few minutes or for the entire day. The point is that people get to experience what it’s like to cross a street, go to the bathroom, or walk across the main green without shoes. 

Emily Koo ’13, who organized the Facebook event for the Brown community, explained that when people think about necessities, they always mention water, shelter, and health care. “They always forget about shoes,” she said.  

“It’s so poignant — walking around watching where you step,” Koo said. 

Although Koo’s Facebook event received a supportive response with more than 250 confirmed guests, others posted dubiouscomments regarding potential injuries and infections. Others were simply concerned about going into “gross places” without their shoes on, Koo said. 

“I live in Keeney,” Grimm said. “So it was weird to wake up and not put my flip flops on to go take a shower.” 

Jonathan Leibowic ’12 walked into Starbucks barefoot Thursday morning thinking he was going to get reprimanded for breaking a hygiene code.

“Fortunately, no one from behind the counter can see your feet,” he said. 

To Leibowic, who said he likes walking barefoot in the springtime, participating in this event seemed like the least he could do to work for a cause that can help so many. 

According to various Facebook events, universities in states including Alabama, Kentucky, California, Texas and Illinois spread the word about spending a day without shoes. 

“It’s a really eye-opening, to be cliche, experience,” Grimm said. “It’s interesting being barefoot — it’s all I’ve been thinking about today.”

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