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Annual track and field shoe drive in progress

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In what has become an annual tradition, the University of Kentucky Track and Field Shoe Drive began earlier this week and will last until May 10.

Former UK track student-athlete Josh Nadzam and seniors Luis Orta and Hiruni Wijayaratne are leading the way for the drive, which will benefit Soles4Souls. a Nashville, Tenn.-based not-for-profit organization that distributes shoes to more than 100 countries.

This is the drive's third year. It began at UK, but has since expanded throughout the Southeastern Conference. Last year, nearly 3,000 shoes were collected at UK alone and more than 13,000 among all SEC schools. Here's more from UKNow:

"This all started from an epiphany that Luis and I had when he realized we were wastefully discarding wearable shoes in the trash," Nadzam said.  "As distance runners, we have to replace our shoes every 400-500 miles; we run anywhere from 60-80 miles a week so you can see this adds up quickly.  Luis came to me with the idea that instead of throwing the shoes away what if we collected them and sent them to countries with citizens who have never owned a pair of shoes."

Nadzam, Orta, and Wijayaratne collected shoes in a somewhat haphazard fashion that first year, spreading the word through Facebook, Twitter, email, and any other form of communication they could think of.  The trio partnered with Soles4Souls, a nonprofit organization in Nashville that collects shoes and ships them to over 126 different countries.

Those wishing to donate can bring new and used shoes to on-campus collection sites at the Johnson Recreation Center, the Center for Academic and Tutorial Services (CATS, located in Memorial Coliseum), Shively Training Center (next to Cliff Hagan Baseball Stadium) and the Patterson Office Tower on the sixth floor.  There is also an off-campus collection site at the Lexington Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG) located at 200 East Main Street.

For more information, visit www.uktrackandfieldshoedrive.com.

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