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In less than two months, approximately 1,250 Spencer County Public School preschool, head start and elementary school students will receive an early Christmas present: a brand-new pair of tennis shoes.
The initiative, known as One Sole Purpose, is headed up by podiatrist Dr. William Beasley, his wife Pat, and First Assembly of God Pastor Chad Goodlett. It is expected to cost $32,500 to purchase 1,250 pair of Converse tennis shoes for the children, and funds are currently being raised to support the cause.
William and Pat have grandchildren attending Spencer County Elementary School, and have spent numerous hours mentoring to students there. One issue they discovered while being in the school system was that many children had inadequate footwear. It was an issue that a couple familiar with podiatry could not ignore.
“We just looked around and started seeing some needs,” William said, noting that Spencer County Family Resource and Youth Service Center Director Becky Wilson had also echoed a need for shoes.
One Sole Purpose is a non-profit organization based in Springfield, Mo. William said he and his wife discovered the organization after reading about the its founder, Gayla Wells, in a magazine. William said he directly contacted Wells, who got him motivated about starting the initiative in Spencer County. He said Kentucky has the first One Sole Purpose chapter outside of Missouri.
“If you ever talk to Gayla Wells, your heart just races, because she is such a wonderful lady,” he said. “She is such a Christian person. She really, truly believes in what she is doing and she got me fired up.”
The Beasleys researched and decided to start a local One Sole Purpose chapter, with Goodlett’s assistance.
“Some people kept telling me about Chad Goodlett, so I called him and we talked,” William said. “The next thing I know, he got me excited. He showed me a picture of a young boy that he had on his cell phone that had a pair of shoes on that had no heel in the sole. He was walking to school in the cold, rainy, damp weather. It just brought tears to my eyes to realize there are needs out there that we would never really know about until you start digging into it.”
Goodlett said he is honored to be a part of One Sole Purpose, and that he knows the needs of local children and families first hand. Often First Assembly supplies shoes for families in the community as part of the church’s ministry.
“It’s great, because every time we would buy a pair of shoes, my wife and I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could buy a pair of shoes for everybody?’” he said.
Spencer County Director of Special Education and Preschool Director Todd Russell said he is excited about One Sole Purpose and the potential it has for a positive impact on children.
“This is going to be a huge undertaking, but I know that the school staff and volunteers will be able to make it happen,” Russell said. “Speaking for all of us at the preschool, we can’t wait to see the excitement of the students at the sizing date and then the delight when the students receive their very own pair of shoes on the disbursement date. We want the students to understand that we care about them and their well being.”
Elementary principals Dale Kleinjan of SCES and Chuck Abell of Taylorsville Elementary echoed Russell’s thoughts.
Kleinjan said when he first heard about the program, he thought it would be near impossible, but changed his mind after speaking with William and Goodlett. He said the kids at Spencer Elementary have not been given all the details about the event yet, but he is sure they will be more than excited.
“I suspect that this will be a day that will be etched in their memory for years to come,” Kleinjan said. “What is also exciting is the subliminal message that there really are people out there that we don’t know on a personal basis but they really care about the children of Spencer County.”
Abell noted that he appreciated that all students were benefitting from the program.
“The passion for helping students exhibited by everyone involved with this project has truly been contagious,” Abell said. “Our kids have diverse backgrounds but thanks to ‘One Sole Purpose’ each of them will share a common experience. Hopefully this example of generosity will be something they remember for a long time.”
Goodlett said some people have questioned why the program targets all the preschool-fifth grade children, and not just those with an immediate need.
“We don’t want to just label the needy kids. All kids can benefit from a blessing,” he said. “All the local people, churches, businesses, the community has come together to do something to show the kids that they matter, that they’re important.”
William said the program’s purpose is clear: It is about restoring hope and dignity by providing a basic necessity.
“Those are the things we take for granted,” he said. “It just sort of brings goodness to your heart to know that you might make a difference.”
But William and Goodlett cannot do alone. William said he is currently working to obtain sponsorships to make the program a reality. Local businesses, churches, organizations and individuals have supported the program thus far.
William said Shoe Carnival is providing employees — with the assistance of community volunteers — on Nov. 5 to professionally size all the children so that the shoes fit correctly. He said the store is also providing the shoes at a discounted rate. He has tentatively set Dec. 14 as the celebration day, on which the children at each school will receive their shoes. William said anyone wanting to assist in the fitting or with the celebrating should contact him or Goodlett.
“I hope we can make this a yearly thing for the children. It’s growing and it’s building. I see people out and they are excited about it. I think people want to do good,” William said.
Anyone wishing to support the effort, either through monetary support or by volunteering, should contact William Beasley at 599-3210 or Chad Goodlett at 599-6049.