Springfield kids get new shoes from medical school students

December 4, 2021 GMT

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Dozens of schoolchildren got new athletic shoes this week from students at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine in Springfield.

Through the national “Shoes that Fit” program, SIU medical students have provided more than 1,000 pairs of shoes to area students since 2007, The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reported.

This week, beneficiaries were at Enos and McClernand elementary schools. At Enos, first-grader Adonus McGruder and Kievan Walters, a third-grader, were so excited they tested them by racing the hallway outside the library.

“I’m going to be the fastest one in my class,” Adonus said after his black Nikes test-run. “They’re good.”

Watching nearby was Khloe Sandercock, a fourth-year medical student from nearby Rochester. The excitement Adonus showed reminded her why she’s participated in the program for three years.

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“They put on that new pair of shoes and they can do anything,” Sandercock said. “They can dance better. They can run better. They’re just so thrilled and it’s fun to see what they can do in their new shoes.”

The students organize the event and purchase the shoes, according to Hope Cherry, program director for SIU Medicine’s Center for Clinical Research in the Department of Community and Family Medicine. There was a “casual day” to raise money for the campaign and faculty, staff and students all donated shoes.

At the schools, teachers often make note of students who might need shoes, said Aisha Stemmons, the family and community engagement liaison at Enos. Families or children themselves sometimes mention it to school staff.

“It makes a big difference in self-esteem,” Stemmons said. “They walk down the hall after leaving here like they’re on cloud nine because they have these awesome shoes that SIU helped donate.”