Day without shoes

Take a second to imagine how little you think about your hands until you have a paper cut or a blister. Now imagine if you had that paper cut or blister every day of your life. That every day feeling is how it is for approximately 1 million people’s feet in Ethiopia.

These people have a debilitating disease called podoconiosis. According to, podoconiosis is a non-filarial, non-infective, usually crystalline blockage of limb lymphatics almost always affecting the lower limbs and especially the feet. Podoconiosis is a form of elephantiasis that is caused by persistent  contact with irritant soils, such as red clay, that are rich in alkali metals like sodium and potassium. The disease is found in at least 10 countries in tropical Africa, Central America and northwest India.

One Day Without Shoes is a national event hosted by TOMS Shoes. TOMS Shoes is a company started in 2006 by business owner Blake Mycoskie to put shoes on children in developing countries. TOMS One For One movement is a business model where with every pair of shoes a customer purchases, TOMS will give a pair to a child in need.

Washburn University’s One Day Without Shoes event was hosted by freshman Kasim Hardaway.

“This event is to raise awareness about people who are less fortunate than us,” said Hardaway.

Participants had the opportunity to take a look into the lives of the less fortunate children around the world by removing their shoes and performing some everyday activities. Simple activities such as walking, and acquiring cuts and scrapes. People also had the option to walk over rugged terrain like the people of developing countries do every day.

“It wasn’t painful, just uncomfortable, and that was the purpose. For people to experience what they go through,” said Hardaway. Hardaway said the most successful part of the event was “the amount of students who wanted to know more.” This is the first year for Washburn University to put on the event, but the plan is to continue it for years to come.