Dec. 8, 2014
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina women’s basketball head coach Dawn Staley wasted little time returning her community service work after her team’s dramatic win at Duke on Sunday, traveling to Mt. Pleasant, S.C., on Monday morning. The co-founder of INNERSOLE addressed Pinckney Elementary School’s fifth graders before meeting privately with the students who qualified to receive sneakers from her organization.
The idea for the visit was borne out of the three-way partnership between national television basketball analyst Debbie Antonelli, South Carolina’s SEC Network + broadcasts and INNERSOLE. In lieu of her usual broadcasting fee, South Carolina is donating the funding for that position to INNERSOLE, which worked with Antonelli and Pinckney Elementary principal Leanne Sheppard to organize Monday’s visit.
“Dawn Staley is a winner and a champion on and off the court,” Antonelli said. “I’m so thankful that she, Innersole and South Carolina Athletics would partner with me to bring this special program to Pinckney Elementary. This school and principal helped create a foundation for my three boys to have success. More importantly, Pinckney created an inclusive environment for my son Frankie, who has Downs Syndrome, to thrive, excel and be the best he can be. We are forever grateful for a strong start for all three boys. Seeing those in need receive shoes from Dawn Staley and INNERSOLE today was priceless! I love being in a partnership where everyone is a winner, and today was exactly that experience.”
Staley spoke to the fifth graders about her background and what life lessons she learned that could be applied to them. As with all audiences, she found a way to relate to the kids immediately, telling them that she was competitive and asking who among them was as well. With all hands in the air, Staley quipped, “Look how much we have in common already!” She went on to share her story and the lessons that stuck with her – a quote from “House Party 2” that she had the kids repeat with her, “You have to do what you don’t want to do to get what you want,” and the message that most big goals can not be achieved without sacrifice. Staley then took questions from the kids, which ranged from how many years she played basketball to announcements of the school’s basketball team’s accomplishments, from if she is friends with South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier to if she was married or had children. from how many national championships she has won to what she is most proud of. To the the last question, Staley stressed that she is as proud to say that she is a first-generation college graduate as she is to talk about her Olympic gold medals.
After the fifth graders were dismissed from the assembly, Staley and INNERSOLE handed out 50+ pairs of shoes, joining one of their partners, WellCare of South Carolina, which also attended the event with Anton Brown giving each shoe recipient a gift as well.
INNERSOLE is a sole movement. A movement that effectively changes the negative impact on poverty in our children. A sole movement that allows a common bond of compassion and humanity that unites us by the gift of giving and the responsibility of shaping an enduring imprint.
INNERSOLE, a fund of the Central Carolina Community Foundation, is a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization recognized by the IRS. All donations made are tax deductible. For more information about INNERSOLE, log on to www.innersole.org or on social media at @innersoleorg on Twitter and INNERSOLEORG on Instagram.