A shot of confidence

Wright State alumnus donates dozens of shoes to elementary school students

When 42 Monticello Elementary School students in Huber Heights walked into their school’s gymnasium, they were greeted by Wayne High School athletes, coaches, volunteers and a new pair of sneakers for each of them.

Matt Cline, who graduated from Wright State University with a bachelor’s degree in marketing, organized the event. Cline runs both his own shoe company and a nonprofit organization that provides new shoes to young students in need.

“Our organization is called Just a Pair of Shoes,” said Cline. “When you come to one of our events you realize it’s much more than a pair of shoes, it’s confidence in a bottle.”

Cline said he was bullied in school as a young boy, in part because he couldn’t afford a nice pair of shoes. So, he earned money mowing lawns and bought his first pair of Nikes. His confidence soared.

Just a Pair of Shoes focuses on students in fourth through sixth grade. Cline said children in those grades become image conscious and can be vulnerable to bullying.

Cline participated in a 48-mile run in March to raise money and awareness for the nonprofit organization. The run collected over $12,000, and all the proceeds will pay for new shoes for children.

After the kids laced up their new Nikes at Monticello Elementary; they played basketball, volleyball and soccer, competed in running races and watched an impromptu slam dunk demonstration from the Wayne varsity boys’ basketball team.

“This is a self-esteem booster,” said Steven Mill, assistant principal at Monticello Elementary School.

Cline said he sees a huge difference in the kids’ confidence after they put on their new shoes. He said that’s what his Just a Pair of Shoes is all about.

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