San Jose, Costa Rica – More than seven hundred children received a new pair of shoes Monday morning as the Tulane men’s basketball team partnered with Samaritans’ Feet in the first of two shoe giveaways at the Costa Rica.
“There are always things bigger than you,” head coach Ron Hunter said of the team. “Here is an opportunity to help children and it’s not just about shoes, it’s about hope and what we can do to help children.”
Pupils were giddy as the team arrived at Tibas Primary School, queuing to receive their new shoes. Although there is normally a training process for the cast, the guys wasted no time when faced with a short window as a class had to catch their school bus.
“It’s probably my 20th distribution and there’s usually a moment where you’re taught what to do and I was very impressed today with the way we started,” assistant coach Claude Pardue said. “It was the most impressive thing, the amount of servitude and humility.”
Each athlete and staff member took turns washing feet, buying new socks, measuring shoe sizes and playing games with the children. While the language barrier presented its challenges, each member of the team found a smile and joy to be something everyone could relate to.
With the help of a few translators, the team was able to get to know the children and eventually communicate with them on their own. Tre Williams introduced himself to each child, giving them a sucker, trying to ask about their day, in the evening gifting them a few extra pairs of socks, earning hugs and high fives from many. Jaylen Forbes asked about their favorite shows, RJ McGee shared the biggest smiles with the kids, Jadan Coleman and Oton Jankovic held the basketball court, and Jake Shapiro started the team’s favorite memory of the day.
“A kid walked up to Jake and asked for his autograph and he turned to the kid and said no, I want yours,” Sandy Ryan said. “All the kids wanted to sign our shirts after that. He made them feel like a celebrity and they’ll never forget that.
The team will take part in its second foreign tour shoe giveaway on Wednesday.
To learn more about Samaritan’s Feet, follow this link.