Barefoot coach to walk across Columbia to raise awareness

Glenforest School coach William Knopf coaching his team barefoot at a team practice.

WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WACH) - If you see a man in a suit walking the streets of Columbia barefoot on Friday afternoon, there's nothing to worry about, it's all for a good cause.

Glenforest School athletics director William Knopf has been stalking the sidelines shoeless for the Bulldogs for four seasons to raise awareness for a Charlotte-based charity called Samaritan's Feet. The group helps get shoes for needy children.

On Friday afternoon, Knopf, the Glenforest School girl's and boy's basketball teams and several members of the community will walk barefoot from Columbia's Five Points to the teams' games in West Columbia to help highlight the cause even more.

Knopf is upping his game for the third annual Barefoot Walk by adding another mile to his route, increasing the total distance to nine miles, all through city streets with bare feet. He will lose plenty of walkers along the way and will likely finish the route alone.

"It's about an opportunity to reach out and help others," said Knopf. "It's not like I even work for Samaritan's Feet. I'm doing this for kids in our state and I'm doing this for kids around the world."

And he's also doing it for his own kids at the Glenforest School. When Knopf started his barefoot efforts four seasons ago, he recruited student government to rally support for the cause by taking it on as a service project. That life lesson and their commitment to the cause has helped collect more than 2,000 shoes for the charity through donations from the community and it's still going strong.

"We have so many pairs of shoes at our houses and some people don't have any at all," said Savannah Calvert, president of the Glenforest School student government. "It reminds us to never take little things for granted and appreciate what we have."

Knopf is hoping to expand the scope of the "Barefoot for Bare Feet Movement." He is challenging every high school coach in South Carolina to coach just one game barefoot this year to raise awareness for the cause. Knopf says it's a small gesture that can make a big difference.

"Our kids here at Glenforest they're all about taking their shoes off. Let's go out and help other people," said Knopf.

The University of South Carolina men's and women's basketball teams have taken up Knopf on his challenge. Barring any changes, team representatives plan to meet him for a portion of Friday's walk.

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