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TOMS Shoes Founder/Amazing Race Contestant To Share Humanitarian Story at Doane

When Blake Mycoskie told people he wanted to start a shoe company that gave a new pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair it sold, people laughed at him.

This month, his thriving company, TOMS Shoes, gave its 1,000,000th pair of shoes to a child.

Mycoskie will bring his humanitarian success story to Doane's Crete campus Tuesday, Oct. 12 with a 7 p.m. lecture in Heckman Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public, sponsored by the college's Hansen Leadership Program. While on campus, Mycoskie - who audiences may recognize as a former The Amazing Race contestant on CBS -- also will share dinner with a small group of students and faculty and take part in an informal question-and-answer session with business students.

"We chose to bring him to campus because his story is so compelling. This is someone who found a way to take a personal sense of altruism and parlay it into a multi-million business model," said Carrie Petr, director of the Hansen Leadership Program.

Mycoskie, 33, is founder and chief shoe giver of Tom's Shoes, an American footwear company founded in 2006 that designs and sells lightweight shoes based on the Argentine alpargata design. He is also the man behind the "One for One" movement - for every pair sold, TOMS donates a new pair of shoes to a child in need, often in places of the world where the repercussions of not having shoes are great. The lack of shoes can keep students from attending schools and realizing their potential. Minerals absorbed through the skin or soil-transmitted diseases that penetrate the skin through bare feet can cause long-term physical and cognitive harm.

Doane sponsored several events in anticipation of Mycoskie's visit. Students were asked to pack gently used shoes when they returned to campus. The drive collected about 500 pairs of shoes that will benefit Fresh Start, a transitional home in Lincoln for women who are moving out of homelessness.  Students also participated in a Barefoot Day, going without shoes to bring awareness to the difference between going without shoes while you're hanging out with friends and going without shoes because you don't have any.

TOMS is Mycoskie's sixth business. TOMS grew from a 2006 trip when he witnessed the hardships facing children growing up barefoot in Argentina. His desire to help resulted in the One for One movement. He returned the following year with friends and family to hand-place 10,000 pairs of new shoes on children, according to his Web site.

Tom's Shoes gave its 1,000,000th pair of new shoes to a child in need this month, working in partnership with humanitarian organizations around the world. The humanitarian partners not only help provide the shoes, but educate families about the importance of wearing shoes, and make sure the same children get more shoes as they grow.

Mycoskie's company has received numerous awards, including the Secretary of State's 2009 Award for Corporate Excellence, presented by Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton.

His "Shoe drops" to Argentina and other locations have been the subject of a documentary, television advertisement and You Tube videos. In his documentary, volunteers are asked to give one word to describe how it felt to place a shoe on the foot of a child who has never worn shoes before.

After answers like "Overwhelming", "Perfect", and "Amazing", one volunteer said simply: "Necessary."