SPO bus drivers volunteer for ‘secret mission’ to distribute shoes to displaced Kentuckians


Five Owensboro Public School bus drivers volunteered for a “secret mission,” only believing they would provide transportation for those displaced by the tornado to Barkley Lake State Park. Instead, they joined University of Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari, Governor Andy Beshear and others in delivering shoes donated by Samaritan’s Feet to affected families.

According to SPO public information officer Jare Revlett, when the district received a call on Thursday, five bus drivers immediately volunteered for the task.

“We had so many of our staff asking about the different ways they can help and this was a unique opportunity for our transportation staff to get involved in recovery efforts,” said Revlett. “We had more volunteers than we needed, which shows how dedicated they are to helping their neighbors in need. “

Beshear and Lieutenant Governor Jacqueline Coleman have teamed up with Calipari and Manny Ohonme, president and CEO of Samaritan’s Feet, to distribute shoes to displaced Kentuckians staying at two resort parks in the state of Kentucky. They were also joined by UK athletics director Mitch Barnhart and former male basketball players Darius Miller and Jack Givens.

“So many people are coming together to support our families in Western Kentucky,” Coleman said. “We Kentuckians have courage, but we have compassion in equal measure, and we are really showing off for each other at this time.”

As a young Nigerian boy, Ohonme won a pair of shoes in a competition. The experience inspired him to believe in himself and work hard to achieve his goals. Ohonme ended up receiving a full scholarship to play basketball in America, earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree, and found success in the tech industry when he founded Samaritan’s Feet, a nonprofit that “serves and inspires hope in children by providing footwear as the basis for a spiritual and healthy life.

Samaritan’s Feet has donated thousands of shoes to Kentuckians affected by tornadoes in western Kentucky who are staying in Kentucky State Parks.

Volunteers are needed in Kentucky State Parks from Christmas Day until the following week. Those who can help should contact Andy Kasitz, Assistant Director of Resort Parks for Kentucky State Parks, at 502-418-3581 or by email at [email protected] Because all housing is needed for those displaced by tornadoes and for first responders, volunteers will need to make their own accommodation arrangements.

To contribute to the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund, visit teamwkyrelieffund.ky.gov/. All donations are tax deductible.

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