It’s getting pretty cold in Kentucky and his job requires him to stand on his feet most days, but Richard Hudgins is not going to wear a pair of shoes until next winter.
Richard Hudgins, who works at a hair salon in Louisville, has vowed to go barefoot for a year to raise awareness and funds for the estimated 300 million people worldwide who can’t afford shoes, WDRB reported. Hudgins launched his mission last month, just before a snow storm, and has already raised more than $1,000, according to his fundraising page.
He hasn’t yet decided where he will donate the money, but Hudgins noted on his Facebook page that he’s currently developing relationships with a number of nonprofits and shoe companies.
"Millions of children are without shoes and these kids are dying and having their limbs cut off just because they don't have anything to protect their feet,” he told WDRB.
Children who have to go through their everyday lives without shoes are often at risk for a number of debilitating conditions, including hookworm. The condition can lead to stunted growth, decreased cognitive development, anemia and chronic fatigue, according to TOMS, a shoe company that donates a pair of shoes to someone in need each time a pair is purchased. Providing school uniforms and shoes to children who can't afford them can also help increase school attendance by 62 percent, the company noted.
Since 2007, TOMS has asked its supporters to go just one day each year without shoes to give them a sense of the struggles so many people face.
“Walking five miles anywhere is hard for most everyone. Walking five miles when you're sick is unimaginable,” Amanda Schwartz, who works with Partners in Health –- an organization that has teamed up with TOMS –- wrote in a blog for HuffPost. “Walking five miles when you're sick and when you are a kid is terrifying. Can you imagine what it would be like to do that and to be barefoot?”
If you're feeling inspired to follow in Hudgins footsteps (yes, you can keep your shoes on), find out how you can support his cause, here.