Oklahoma Cleats for Kids makes a difference

Stacy McDaniel's organization takes used athletic equipment and gives it to kids in need, giving them a chance to enjoy sports.
by Jenni Carlson Published: November 8, 2012

Stacy McDaniel bought basketball shoes for one of her boys in June.

“When he went to his end-of-summer basketball tournament,” she said, “he had outgrown 'em.”

She laughed.

“Really?”

She has three active children, and that means she has lots of athletic equipment that they have outgrown.

She knows she isn't alone.

She knows, too, that there are lots of kids in Oklahoma City who don't have the shoes or the pants or the gloves that they need to play sports.

McDaniel decided to do something about both problems. Her solution has been more successful than even she imagined. With Oklahoma Cleats for Kids about to celebrate its one-year anniversary, her story will make you look differently at those used shoes sitting in your closet.

Stacy and her husband, Mark, regularly take their children, Cole, Josh and Megan, to volunteer at the Pilot Recreation Center just west of downtown. Last fall, they struck up a conversation with Lenora Ware, the director, about whether she saw kids who wanted to play sports but couldn't because they lacked the most basic equipment.

Ware told them a story about a single mother of five. The woman had scraped together enough money to pay the fees for the kids to play in a youth basketball league.

The kids, though, had no shoes.

Ware went looking.

“I found these shoes for you,” she told the mom. “They're a little less than $25, but they've got to have shoes to play.”

“I can't buy them,” the mom said. “It's the difference between paying my electric bill and buying groceries.”

The kids didn't play.

“The next week,” McDaniel said, “we started working on this.”

What grew out of that day at the Pilot Center was Oklahoma Cleats for Kids. Its mission was to collect new and used sports equipment, then distribute it to kids in need around Oklahoma City.

“Nobody was helping to get these local kids anything,” she said. “We've got kids right here in our backyard that do not have shoes.”

The first event Cleats for Kids was involved with was a Police Athletic League soccer camp. While McDaniel was handing out soccer shoes to some of the 300-plus kids, she noticed a little boy who was crying. He wasn't registered because he didn't have any soccer shoes.

She approached the boy's mom.

“Even if he's not playing,” she asked the mom, “would he take a pair of shoes?”

A few minutes later, the boy had on his new shoes.

“He put on the shoes and ran around — I watched my clock — for 15 minutes without stopping,” McDaniel said.

He was laughing and hugging and smiling.

Then, he approached Stacy.

by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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OKLAHOMA CLEATS FOR KIDS

What: Collection event for the Oklahoma City-based nonprofit, which distributes donated athletic equipment to kids in need. The first 100 donations will receive a free T-shirt. Rumble the Bison will also make an appearance.

When: 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday

Where: Downtown Community Basketball Court, Reno and Hudson

Oklahoma Cleats for Kids donations can be made any time at 1237 NW 48th Street. For more information, contact Stacy McDaniel at (405) 239-0723 or stacy@okcleatsforkids.org.

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