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
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“Can I keep these?” he asked.

McDaniel says that is a question she hears again and again. Can I keep these? The kids just can't fathom that they can keep their new stuff, that they can take it home, that it is theirs.

Who knows where that excitement could lead?

Maybe it gets the kids out of the house and active. Maybe it inspires them to try a new sport or join a league. Maybe it allows them to see all the benefits of sports, the self-esteem, the teamwork, the life lessons.

“One basketball season may change their whole entire life,” McDaniel said.

That may sound pollyannaish, but there are examples everywhere of people whose lives were changed by sport.

Take the 8-year-old boy from a single-parent family who discovered basketball at a rec center near his home. The court there became a sanctuary, a place to be safe, a place to be nurtured.

The boy became one of the greatest players on the planet — Kevin Durant.

“Not everybody's going to be a professional athlete,” McDaniel said, “and that's not really the goal.”

The goal is to give kids a chance to play.

Cleats for Kids is definitely achieving that goal. In less than a year, it has distributed more than 2,000 pairs of shoes and pieces of equipment to kids in Oklahoma City.

Some of the shoes and equipment came from donation drives at local schools. Cleats for Kids provides the bins — even offering to drop them off and pick them up — and students at the school serve as captains for the drive.

Some came from teams, such as a baseball squad that replaced its pants or a basketball squad that got new uniforms.

Some came from folks leaving them inside the giant shoe-shaped drop box outside the office/storage space/distribution center on NW 48th Street just east of Classen Boulevard.

Whatever she's gotten however she's gotten it, McDaniel has found a new home for it.

What started as a couple-days-a-week job — McDaniel stepped away from her law career a few years ago to spend more time with her kids — is now a full-time job.

“I promise you, the light that comes on when these kids get a pair of shoes, it is enough to keep you going,” she said. “If you could see them ... I swear you'd give every single pair of shoes you ever had to these kids.”

Stacy McDaniel is standing on the fence, trying to give needy kids a hand and help them over.

But she can't do it alone.

“Give your shoes a second life,” she said. “Let us give 'em to kids that need 'em.”

Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. You can also like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.

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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