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Hearts and Soles
ONU cross country kicks in to help Hardin county
After winning a combined six Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) championships since 2005, the Ohio Northern University’s men’s and women’s cross country teams have set their sights on a new goal for this season — helping the less fortunate in Hardin County.
Through the month of September, the team is collecting shoes on campus to donate to area charities within Hardin County. For cross county coach Jason Maus, what started as a weekend chore has turned into a successful service project for ONU student athletes.
“My wife had been pressing me to clean out my closet this summer, so while I was on a run one day I started thinking about what I could do with all my old shoes,” he said. “And then I thought maybe I could donate them, which got me thinking that it might be good for the team to do it too, because they are probably like me and have 15 pairs of running shoes that they don’t wear anymore.”
To date the team has collected more than 180 pairs of shoes of all shapes and sizes. The shoes will be donated to the ReStore in Ada, Ohio, and New Hope Fellowship in Kenton, Ohio. Originally, Maus planned to collect just running shoes, but assistant coach Casey Gantt recommended opening up the collection to all kinds. So while running shoes are by far the most common, the team has amassed a fair share of loafers, flip-flops, pumps, heels and even a pair of Klondike-inspired polar bear slippers.
For the team members the project has been a welcome diversion from the grueling demands of training.
“There have been a lot more people donate than I thought there was going to be,” said junior pharmacy major Alison Steinbrunner from New Carlisle, Ohio. “I thought it would just be us donating, but professors and staff members here at ONU have been emailing coach Maus about shoes and we go pick them up.”
Giving back is nothing new to the cross country teams at ONU. Each spring the men’s and women’s teams participate in the Run for the Roses, a charitable 5k run that supports cystic fibrosis. But for junior biology major Brittany Stanek of Canton, Ohio, there is something extra special about this project.
“I’m really glad that we could give back to the community as a team. And it would be cool if these shoes inspire kids, or really anyone, to start running,” she said.