ATLANTA - Georgia State men's basketball coach Ron Hunter, his staff and players will travel halfway around the world to South Africa on July 31 for a week of distributing shoes and hope with Samaritan's Feet.
The team will leave Atlanta on Tues., July 31st and return on the morning of August 9th.
Hunter has become one of the faces of the organization and will be making his sixth trip abroad since 2008 when he was first approached by Samaritan's Feet. Since the organization was founded by Manny and Tracie Ohonme in 2003, Samaritan's Feet has distributed more than one million pairs of shoes in more than 50 nations.
This year's trip will be a little different for Hunter who will be bringing his Georgia State staff and players for the first time. The only other previous time bringing his team on a trip came while at IUPUI when his squad went to Lima, Peru.
"I feel very blessed and humbled to be working with an organization like Samaritan's Feet," commented Hunter. "To be able to bring my staff and equally important my players will make it a unique trip for all involved.
"Going to South Africa will allow us to distribute a great number of shoes in a part of the world where foot disease runs rampant. Hopefully we can do our part to bring hope to those who are not nearly as fortunate as we are.
"To be able to wash a child's feet, give them a pair of socks and put on their first pair of shoes gives me a feeling inside that I cannot describe. The smile on the face of each child we help is priceless and is worth more to me than anything I could ever accomplish on the basketball court."
In 2007, Samaritan's Feet set a goal of distributing 10 million pairs of shoes to 10 million children in 10 years. Hunter became a representative of the organization a short time later, coaching a basketball game barefoot for the first time on Jan. 24, 2008 while still the head coach of IUPUI. With the help of the community, Hunter was able to raise 140,000 pairs of shoes for the organization.
Since then, Hunter has coached one game barefoot each season. In his first season at Georgia State, Hunter coached the Panthers to a 75-61 victory in the Sports Arena in front of nearly 2700 fans, including 1600 students who were helping to support the cause.
Hunter has made trips to Peru, Costa Rica, Nigeria and South Africa in the past. He has also helped distribute shoes in the United States. As part of the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend last winter, Hunter and his players distributed more than 200 pairs of shoes in the Atlanta area.
"Our goal is to help children everywhere," continued Hunter. "I have no doubt that as we bring smiles to the faces of children in South Africa, our team will also become more appreciative of everything that we are blessed with in the United States."
Samaritan's Feet and its team of global ambassadors have touched the lives of men, women and children across the United States and around the world in an effort to help the nearly 300 million people who go without shoes each day. Through this simple act of humility and servant-leadership, the Samaritan's Feet and their volunteers hope to express love, compassion and hope to children around the world.
Supporters will be able to follow Georgia State on his trip to South Africa with planned blog updates and photos from the journey that will be posted daily to GeorgiaStateSports.com.