Program helps amputee kids find running shoes

Entrepreneur realized many shoes thrown away

By Chris Conte
Copyright 2019 CNN

Local entrepreneur realized many "orphaned" shoes are thrown away.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - On an oppressively hot summer afternoon standing on the Belmont University track overlooking Nashville's skyline, Kenbe Rogers is practicing to set a new personal record.

This nine-year-old was born in Haiti right after a deadly earthquake shook the country to its core back in 2010. But the shaking of the earth there did not contribute to how Kenbe ended up in Nashville and didn't dictate how this rambunctious young boy found himself missing his left leg.

"He was born without a fibula in his lower left leg," Kenbe's dad, Jason, said sitting next to his son on the bleachers.

Jason and his wife adopted Kenbe when he 14-months-old. At the time he was living in an orphanage there and it was clear Kenbe wouldn't be able to get the kind of medical care he needed.

"He came home to live with us on a medical visa initially until we were finally able to adopt him," Jason said.

It is hard to keep Kenbe from moving. Even with his left leg missing, he's excelling at track and field, primarily with the help of a specially made prosthetic running leg.

"Remember when it got stuck in the sand on the beach," Kenbe says to his dad about an comical incident that happened a few years ago.

"We've broken a few legs over the years," his dad quickly responded.

Kenbe isn't limited by the fact that he's an amputee. There is however a common struggle that the Rogers share with other amputee families.

"You don't need two shoes. We find ourselves buying running shoes but then he only wears one of them," Jason says.

Typically, this family finds themselves buying cheaper shoes for Kenbe to walk around in. More often than not, they'll buy Kenbe expensive running shoes but end up throwing the left shoe out because it doesn't work with the prosthetic.

Which is where the now shuttered Nike store in Lebanon came into play recently.

As the store was closing, a local entrepreneur realized the company had a number of "orphaned" shoes that were going to be thrown away. Out of that realization started a new partnership with Amputee Blade Runners based in Nashville. Nike is now donating single shoes to the group so they can hand them out to other amputees like Kenbe.

"What's great about this is there are a lot of kids sizes and that's something parents never typically have access too," say Joshua Southards with Amputee Blade Runners.

The program is so new it doesn't have a name. Joshua is hoping to hand shoes out to kids at a summer camp in the coming week.

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