May 29, 2024

Feet are regarded by many to be dreadful appendages entirely deserving of spending the majority of their existence laced up tightly in sneakers and safely removed from the realm of civil decency.  After all, feet have the alarming propensity to hold their own as one of the more mal-odorous regions of the body in addition to sporting unsightly deformities in a manner far to frequent to be fit for public exposure. So why then would Sarah Jurewicz, head coach of the Wittenberg Women’s Basketball team and otherwise respected, sane member of the learning community, assume her usual position at the sidelines of Wednesday’s game sans-footwear? The answer is simple; to raise awareness for the estimated 300 million people around the world who go barefoot on a daily basis not because they find pleasure in making those around them uncomfortable, but because they don’t have access to shoes.

            No stranger to foregoing footgear, Jurewicz set her tootsies free in 2011 alongside coaches from all across the nation in an effort to raise money and drum up support for Samaritans Feet, an organization dedicated to providing shoes to the global shoeless population. This time around she decided to go it alone, independently raising money to be donated to two charities, Bloom Africa and Project Woman, to support shoeing the shoeless.

Bloom Africa is a non-profit organization founded by Wittenberg graduate Andrew Steele in the tradition of Professor of History Scott Rosenberg’s annual aid trips to Lesotho, Africa. Project Woman is a Springfield based agency that dedicates itself to quashing violent abuse and sexual assault through a variety of programs. “Lesotho resonates with the students at Wittenberg,” said Jurewicz on how the benefactors of her efforts were decided. She continued, “It is also important to realize that there are local individuals whose needs are not being met. I’ve seen a lot of the good that Project Woman can do, and that’s why I went with them.”

            The event was held on Wednesday, January 22, two days behind the national holiday of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The close proximity was no happy coincidence as Jurewicz cites King’s altruistic preaching regarding the interconnectedness of mankind as an influential catalyst for her own involvement in philanthropy. Her passion was mirrored by a notable selection of students, faculty, and community who showed up in impressive numbers to eagerly kick off their boots in a show of admiration for their fellow Wittenberg community member.

            In addition to Jurewicz’s personal pledge to commit five dollars on behalf of every student who bravely attended the game naked from the ankle down, the final tally was 45; donations were accepted at the door from those who felt their feet too unsightly or stinky to be exposed in good conscious. All said and done, Jurewicz was able to raise $1600 for the two respective charities, a total that fiercely smashed the originally modest goal of $1000. To boot, the Tigers also laid a good walloping on Kenyon trouncing the Lady Lords 6-47 and ensuring that the bus ride back to Gambier was a solemn and reflective one.

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