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Wednesday, Apr 24, 2024
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Witness First, Kicks Second

Hayden Blessing is a shoe fanatic. For years, the former college basketball player has been collecting $300 Jordans in his closet. But one day three years ago, that all changed.

Blessing, a PE teacher and basketball coach, was instructing his first grade PE class one day when a little boy came up and asked him to tie his shoe. As Blessing bent down, he noticed how beat up the kid’s shoes were.

“His shoes were clearly too small, had holes all over, and I couldn’t even tie the shoe because one lace was torn,” Blessing said. “I looked down at what I was wearing that day—a pair of $300 Jordans. I was stuck. The rest of the day I was torn. Once I got home I walked into my room and looked at my closet full of collected Jordans. I knew I had to do something.”

And so he did. Blessing sold off 25 pairs of his own shoes, and used that money to jump-start his non-profit: Witness Kicks.  

Over the last three years, Witness Kicks has sent shoes to nine different countries and has given all over the United States. In total, the group has given close to 3,000 pairs of shoes.

Now a graduate assistant for the men’s basketball team, Blessing said that he wants to involve the Mercer community in his mission.

“The cornerstone of Witness Kicks is Romans 10:13-15,” Blessing said. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring Good News!’”

Whenever Blessing gives out shoes to those in need, he shares his inspiration and message before handing out the shoes.

“It's Witness first, Kicks second,” Blessing said. “The shoes are just the piece we get to use to show a little bit of God's Love.”

On Feb. 18 at 7 p.m., Witness Kicks will be holding a shoe drive as the men’s basketball team takes on Western Carolina.

Anyone who brings gently used or new shoes to donate to Witness Kicks will be granted free admission. In addition, students who bring shoes will be entered into a raffle to win a $150 Foot Locker Gift Card. 

The first 100 students to donate shoes will be given a Witness Kicks bracelet. All types of shoes are acceptable.

“The goal of this event is to raise awareness and bring in some shoes for Witness Kicks so we can give back in the Macon area,” Blessing said. “But we can’t do that without the help of Mercer students, faculty, and staff.”


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