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.