Sometimes walking a mile in another person’s shoes is all it takes to make a change, other times it might take walking a mile alongside other people’s shoes.
Nearly 1,500 pairs of tennis shoes, children’s shoes, loafers, slippers and stilettos lined the Brenau Mile Tuesday morning as part of the first Footloose for Fitness event.
The purpose of the event is three-fold.
It aims to bring awareness to the importance of health and wellness by encouraging people to take the milelong walk. It also encourages tobacco use prevention in time for the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout on Thursday, with the shoes representing lives lost to tobacco-related illness. Community members and organizations also were able to donate their used shoes to local charities.
“That’s why we say it’s for both health and helping. We wanted to gather the shoes for the community but also encourage wellness on campus and in Gainesville,” Lisa Echols, collection development librarian at Brenau, said.
The event was a collaborative effort between Georgia Department of Public Health District 2, the Northeast Georgia Medical Center and Brenau University.
“Twelve-hundred people die every day from tobacco. It’s almost every shoe out here represents someone who dies every day of tobacco-related illness, not just cancer but diseases like asthma and COPD,” said Angie Caton, oncology educator at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center.
For the last five years, the medical center has held a similar shoe drive as part of the Great American Smokeout.
The donated shoes were distributed to the Salvation Army, Goodwill, Good News at Noon, Gateway Domestic Violence Center and the Potter’s House after the event.
William Lightfoot, dean of the School of Business and Mass Communications at Brenau, said the school has been looking at different ways of increase wellness on both the campus and in Gainesville for the last few years.
“This is a great example of what can happen very quickly, in six or seven weeks, when you have good people and a great collaboration,” Lightfoot said.