A pair of shoes can change your life, and thousands of shoes can help honor a life.
Kim Mitchell, community relations manager at Cassell Brothers Heating and Cooling, headed up the efforts at Cassell Brothers to collect new shoes for children to help support the INNERSOLE project, but in homage to her father who “was taken by Jesus” in May, she has a new goal to collect 5,620 pairs of shoes.
As fans of the Lady Gamecocks Women’s Basketball team at the University of South Carolina, Mitchell and her family - especially her father Clyde Lipsey- go above and beyond as fans.
Dawn Staley, head coach of the University of South Carolina women’s basketball team created a nonprofit called INNERSOLE. Co-founded in 2013 by Staley and Rene McCall Flint, INNERSOLE has donated well over 7,500 new shoes to underprivileged children in South Carolina’s low performing schools. With new shoes, Staley hopes to inspire confidence for children and also encourage education.
“I started working at Cassell Brothers five years ago, and I was aware that Coach Staley had that non-profit,” Mitchell said. “When I came to work here, I approached our owner James Cassell about doing a shoe drive for Coach Staley.”
Mitchell’s father was just as passionate about the women’s basketball team at USC, and not even cancer could keep him away. However, his struggles did inspire Mitchell to create a lasting legacy in Clyde’s name.
In December 2019, Kim’s father was diagnosed with cancer and had a tumor growing on his T12 vertebra. The diagnosis was during basketball season, and Clyde missed many games.
“His goal was to be in the stands on February 20, when the Gamecocks played Yukon, their big rival. As only God would have it, his last treatment was on the 20th. He rang the bell that afternoon about 3 p.m., and he was able to be in the stands that night,” Mitchell said. “He felt well enough that in March we traveled to Greenville to the SCC tournament and we got to watch the Lady Gamecocks compete.”
However, Clyde’s health was shortlived. By the end of April 2020, he started feeling bad again. On May 4, doctors told the family that Clyde had stage four liver cancer.
“On May 6, 2020, Jesus came and took my dad to Heaven,” said Mitchell.
“My dad loved the girls basketball team. He called them ‘his girls.’ So I want to do something to keep his legacy alive. I thought we would do a shoe drive and I had a lofty goal. My goal was 5,620 new shoes, which coincides with the day my dad went to heaven - May 6, 2020.”
Since that day, Mitchell and her supporters officially delivered 1,992 pair of shoes with roughly about 600 that need to be boxed and counted and delivered.
“I'm a little over halfway there, and we will keep collecting as long as we can collect,” Mitchell said.
“I am overwhelmed by the response. I was just looking for a way to keep my dad's legacy alive. It’s amazing. My dad's legacy is going to continue and it's a beautiful thing.”
“Our owners, Jamey and Dana Cassell have been very generous in letting me collect shoes at our office and they also made a very substantial financial contribution to this shoe drive. Many of my co-workers also contributed shoes and monetary donations," said Mitchell.
Individuals can give to support the shoe drive by dropping off new shoes for ages K to 12 at Cassell Brothers or via Venmo @Vicki-Amick or Cash App $VickiAmick.