Brainsport’s Shoe Donation

They’ve been around for years. Running shoes, since the dawn of the modern running world, we have been running in a pair of shoes of some sort. I, for one, have started to forget how fantastic running shoes truly are. I also started to forget that shoes aren’t a common thing in the world. This is a story about my experience in a third world country, where shoes aren’t a thing you just have, but first a little background.

My name is Jason Goertzen, I have worked at Brainsport in Saskatoon since I was thirteen. Knowing the owner, Brian Michasiw, all of my life, it just made sense to start working for him. After about three years of working at Brainsport, I had the opportunity of going to Santa Cruz Bolivia, and was encouraged to bring items to donate to those in need.

Brainsport for years have run a shoe donation. People would bring in their old gently used shoes, and we would find them a good home. So I decided to take over 50 pounds worth of shoes with me. (I can’t remember how many pairs, I just remember the amount of weight I was allowed on a checked bag)

Eighteen hours, and several stops through security in the states, I landed in Santa Cruz, and thankfully my contact was there ready to pick me up from the airport. Ken Switzer has been living in Bolivia for years, and runs a house for ex-street kids and gives them the opportunity to get an university education.

The drive to the house I was staying at was an eye opener for sure. Seeing the poverty and everything around me, and a large majority of people didn’t have any shoes what so ever. After a day of settling in, and sorting everything I had brought, we went to a drug rehab centre, and got to play some soccer (or football as it were) and hang out with the guys there.

Before leaving the rehab centre we gave the person in charge of the centre a huge bag of the donation shoes from Saskatoon. The line the man said that has stuck with me since being there in 2010 is “Good shoes here are scarce and don’t really exist. These are worth more than gold to us.” That really hit me, because all of my life I have had good shoes, and just took them for granted.

The next day, I was shuttled off to a children’s home where shoes were also scarce. After playing with the kids, we got them set up with good shoes as well. I don’t think I have ever seen a child so excited about getting something. It was fantastic!

Brainsport has been doing things like this for years. We don’t just send shoes out to other countries either. Every year we have a shoe give away day in Saskatoon, where we set up in a inner city school’s gym and give shoes away to anyone that needs them. If someone needs shoes, Brainsport will get them sorted out.

Thanks for reading.

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