The Ohio State University Alumni Association

Buckeye student-athletes help new friends through Soles4Souls service-learning trips.

Basketball players Asia Doss, right, and Keita Bates-Diop make some new friends during their week in Jamaica for a Soles4Souls service-learning project aimed at providing shoes to people in need.

Finding time to study abroad can pose a challenge for student-athletes busy juggling classwork, practices, competitions and other commitments. But for some, a heart for service and yen for travel have been fulfilled through Soles4Souls.

These weeklong service-learning trips are a way for student-athletes to travel abroad and provide shoes for children and adults in need. Since 2015, Ohio State has sent 31 student-athletes representing 23 varsity teams to Costa Rica, Jamaica and Bolivia through a partnership with the Nashville-based Soles4Souls organization.

“Seeing what other people go through puts a new light on the way you live,” says Liz Buerling, a member of the pistol team who traveled to Jamaica. “Being able to do something small by giving kids shoes and seeing the big smiles on their faces makes you realize you want to give more.”

At each destination, Ohio State students size community members’ feet and fit them for shoes — more than 2,800 pairs so far. The trips’ success has sparked the Athletics Department and Student Athlete Support Services Office to discuss a pair of trips to Africa next year.

“We walked away with full hearts, knowing that we are taking part in something bigger than ourselves,” says field hockey’s Chelsea Quinn, who assisted in Costa Rica.

Photos by Chris Cullum, Cierra Gillison, Kyle Kuhlman and Brittany Savko.

Gymnast Michelle Burns chats with a Jamaican boy.
Kylie Randall of women’s volleyball hangs out with new friends in Jamaica.
Football player Raekwon McMillan sizes the feet of a Jamaican child.
Football player Billy Price high-fives a Jamaican girl.
Pistol team member Liz Buerling fits a Jamaican girl for shoes.
Hockey player Christian Lampasso, left, and soccer player Lindsay Agnew head a procession in Jamaica.
Football player Joshua Perry and a group of children show their Ohio State pride in Costa Rica.
Sam Jardine of men’s hockey and Chelsea Quinn of field hockey take a picture with Costa Rican children holding on to their shoe boxes.
Tennis player Matt Mendez notes this young Bolivian girl’s shoe size on her hand.
Rower Chelsea Harpool plays a game of Simon Says with a group of Bolivian children.
Bridgett Vilbig of the women’s lacrosse team hands shoes to track and field teammates Sade Olatoye and Kyle McKinney.

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