01/10/05 — Samaritan's Feet Founder To Speak, Receive Shoes

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Samaritan's Feet Founder To Speak, Receive Shoes

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Published in News on January 10, 2005 1:57 PM

The Rev. Emmanuel Ohonme, founder and president of Samaritan's Feet International, will be the guest speaker for Wayne Community College's annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. birthday celebration.

He will speak at 1 p.m. on Thursday in Moffatt Auditorium on the college's main campus in Goldsboro. The public is invited to attend this free event.

The event is the culmination the WCC Multi-Cultural Association for Enrichment's "Shoe for Hope" drive for nearly new or barely used tennis shoes and monetary contributions. The club, with the assistance of campus and community partners, hoped to collect 500 pairs of shoes for Ohonme's ministry. Samaritan's Feet is a humanitarian and inter-faith evangelical organization dedicated to providing shoes for impoverished families around the world.

Growing up in Logos, Nigeria, the only shoes "Manny" Ohonme owned until he was 9 years old were flip-flops. After a "Good Samaritan" from the United States gave Ohonme his first pair of tennis shoes, he began to play sports and was so good that in 1989 he was able to go to the University of North Dakota-Lake Region on a full basketball scholarship.

After two years there, he transferred to Concordia College in Minnesota to study international relations. He considered playing professional basketball in Europe, but chose instead to go to North Dakota State University to get a master's degree in economics.

Following graduation, he went to work for a supply chain technology company in Charlotte and moved through a series of leadership roles in several businesses before founding his own company.

When he made a visit home to Nigeria, he was haunted by the poverty and remembered the difference one pair of shoes had made in his life. In March 2003, he walked away from a six-figure salary and began collecting shoes; Samaritan's Feet International was born, with the goal of providing 10 million impoverished people with 10 million pairs of tennis shoes over the next 10 years.

Ohonme is currently interim vice president of product management for RedPrairie Inc. a supply chain execution software company. He also serves on the boards of several charitable organizations. He has been married to his college sweetheart, Tracie, for 12 years and they have four children, ages 11 through 3.