When we heard about Sneakers for Soldiers and the parents who wanted to help both their son and others, we knew we found our next Purple Paladin.
After receiving a call from their son, who was serving in Afghanistan and in need of a new pair of sneakers, Deborah and John Hausladen found their mission. They learned that while the U.S. military recognizes that sneakers are an essential item – and are in the early stages of providing athletic shoes to new recruits – deployed service members are not currently included in these efforts. Determined to find a way to help fill the gap, the Hausladens formed Sneakers for Soldiers in 2018. Their mission: mobilize individuals and organizations to support deployed troops in a practical way that complements the U.S. military’s efforts.
Time spent out of boots wearing properly fitting athletic shoes is critical to the health of our troops’ feet. And the extreme temperatures, rugged terrain and daily exercise wreak havoc on their sneakers. Sneakers for Soldiers purchases high-quality sneakers at a discount to send to men and women serving in imminent danger areas and combat zones. The uniqueness of the program is that deployed service members choose a sturdy athletic shoe that best fits their feet and needs – ordering is customized for each service member.
It was an idea, generated from one phone call, that’s already made a huge impact. In a little more than a year, Sneakers for Soldiers has provided nearly 1,500 pairs of athletic shoes. Just as important, the program reminds our deployed troops that people care and are grateful for their service.
“It’s a wonderful feeling knowing that something as simple as a pair of sneakers is putting a smile on the faces of our service members,” Deborah shared. “And we’re just getting started.”
The difference Sneakers for Soldiers is making is apparent from the outpouring of gratitude from deployed troops who have received their new sneakers.
“Purple Paladins is about supporting real people who are tackling real issues and making huge personal sacrifices for all of us,” said Brad Preber, CEO of Grant Thornton. “It doesn’t get much more real than helping men and women serving in combat zones.”