By John Riemer
Athletic Communications Intern

WILMINGTON, North Carolina - As any family with kids participating in sports is aware, the number of shoes in a house piles up quickly, especially while the children are still growing. Always thinking on their feet, so to speak, sisters Michaela and Ariana Moran had an innovative solution.

Michaela, a sophomore cross country/track and field athlete from Atkinson, N.H., and Ariana, a senior at Pinkerton Academy in Atkinson, N.H., found the perfect way to put those old shoes to good use.

Enter “Sole Sisters,” a non-profit organization focused on donating used sneakers to those less fortunate.

Kevin and Lori Moran let their daughters take the lead on the project. The Moran sisters researched how to establish a non-profit, obtained their Tax Identification Number, and created “Sole Sisters” charity.

“The idea started with an article about children in the slums of Kenya getting ringworm from walking around barefoot. That’s what motivated the first shipment,” said Lori Moran.

The Moran’s pile of shoes was no longer suitable for running and cheerleading competitions. Michaela and Ariana recognized that the shoes were still in good shape and could be donated to these places in need. Michaela and Ariana were both amazed how a simple thing, like worn down shoes, could save so many lives in impoverished areas.

“We had no use for them and people there (Kenya) were losing their lives from infection and disease caused by walking around barefoot,” said the 17-year-old Ariana.

St. Anne’s Catholic Church, the Moran’s church in New Hampshire, became the first collection center for the “Sole Sisters” charity.

“The Catholic Church has been a huge help in the starting of ‘Sole Sisters.’ They had some of the first collection bins in my hometown and helped find some of the early charities that we donated to,” said Michaela.

The girls have collection bins at other schools and churches in the Atkinson community, and donate the shoes to different areas of need each month. Since the charity’s inception this past July, “Sole Sisters” has gathered 800-900 pairs of shoes.

“We wanted to change the location each month, so we could spread the wealth and help as many as we could by putting shoes on their feet,” said Michaela, 19.  

The charity was also brought to the attention of the UNCW Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and “Sole Sisters” began working with the student organization to gather shoes and monetary donations.

“SAAC is always looking for charities to work with that support individuals who are in need. Our student-athletes enjoy opportunities such as this and assisting a fellow student-athlete, Michaela Moran, and the ‘Sole Sisters’ charity is an opportunity we are all looking forward too,” said Will Libous, SAAC advisor.

“Sole Sisters” is not only in need of shoes, but financial support as well. The charity was established in July 2013 and is learning on the run about the challenges of operating a charity.

“Money has been the biggest challenge so far,” said Michaela. “It gets expensive shipping, and as of now, we have been doing it all out of pocket.”

Michaela and SAAC will participate in a joint fundraiser that will raise money to help cover the cost of shipping. UNCW student-athletes have placed large collection bins across campus, along with flyers advertising the cause.

The shoes collected in January and February will be shipped to Eldoret, Kenya. Past shoe donations have been delivered to foreign countries such as Nairobi, Kenya and Honduras, and various Appalachian and West Virginia shelters.

Michaela and Ariana have been gratified with the support they have received and the opportunity to help others.

Lori Moran said, “It’s been great. I was excited that they wanted to give back, it’s something every parent wants.”


Those wishing to get involved or donate to “Sole Sisters” may visit the charity’s website at http://sole-sisters.webs.com for contact information. SAAC has also established collection boxes on campus at Wagoner Hall and Randall Library.