In December 2021, a deadly tornado swept across Western Kentucky. Then in August 2022, flooding came throughout Eastern Kentucky. These natural disasters devastated homes and communities across the state. Samaritan’s Feet wanted to do their part to help, and teamed up with a few very special partners to do so.

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“It’s hard to describe how devastating the tornadoes that hit Kentucky were.”

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear added, “but we’re going to get ourselves up, thanks to the help of some new shoes, and we’re going to move forward.”

In December, Samaritan’s Feet jumped into action alongside University of Kentucky Men’s Basketball Coach John Calipari. We packed a truck with over 10,000 pairs of shoes that would be distributed across five towns: Cadiz, Dawson Springs, Gilbertsville, Hardin, and Central City.

“Coach Cal is loved in this state” said Governor Beshear. So when Coach Cal called Governor Beshear to figure out what they could do to lift people’s spirits in the Western Kentucky area, without being in the way of vital cleanup, Governor Beshear was thrilled. Together with Samaritan’s Feet, they were going to give new shoes to as many kids and adults as possible in the area, as they had just lost everything in their closets. And not only would these families and individuals receive a new pair of shoes, Samaritan’s Feet also wanted to give them a little bit of encouragement and love.

Governor Beshear recalls meeting a young boy who was living at the State Park, which was being used as a shelter for people whose homes had been destroyed. This boy had just been through a traumatic event, but when he saw those blue shoes, his eyes lit up. He stood up, smiled, and ran a lap. This kid, who just days before had been through something awful, and now he was having a pure moment of joy.


A few months later, Coach Cal and some of his basketball team members decided to surprise students in the Dawson Springs community. They walked into the high school gym and the students erupted in cheers. Today was going to be a special day for everyone.

Coach Cal addressed the students, asking who had been impacted by the tornadoes, and hands went up throughout the room. Then, a Kentucky basketball player talked to the group saying, “the hardest thing to do is find light within darkness and you guys found a way to keep pushing.”

Coach Cal and his team were there to encourage these students, to be there if they needed it. And not only did they support them through their words, they also supported through their actions as the team washed the feet of these students and gave them a new pair of shoes.

Then, in August, destructive flooding hit communities in Eastern Kentucky. Families lost everything in their homes: clothing, furniture, and supplies, and were left with nothing. Samaritan’s Feet once again partnered with Coach Cal, The Calipari Foundation, and the University of Kentucky to provide 5,000 pairs of shoes to those in need in the area.

The shoes were distributed at two State Parks, the temporary home for many impacted by the floods, and the lines started forming early. Many families in line shared how they had lost everything and just had to keep putting item after item in the trash as they worked through the cleanup.

Several special guests came to serve, including Coach Calipari, Kentucky Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman, Wildcat Hall-of-Famer Jack “Goose” Givens, and many other Kentucky athletic coaches. Each of them individually washed the feet of every person they served.

It was a moment to pause and cheer on those who had experienced uncertainty and loss in the last several weeks. It was a moment to say, ‘here I am, cheering you on, just as you’ve cheered on my team for so long’.

“To go from disaster to areas that need an outstretched arm and say ‘I know things have been tough, but let’s see what we can do,’ that’s special,” said Governor Beshear.

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