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BOGACZYK: Duhons Bring `Sneakers to Succeed' to the Herd

Chris Duhon
Feb. 12, 2015




            HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - Chris Duhon has a shoe deal for you.

            It's different than the kind of shoe deal Duhon had as a nine-year NBA veteran, before he moved into collegiate coaching by joining Dan D'Antoni's first-year staff at Marshall.

            Duhon and his wife, Dr. Andrea Duhon - a Marshall University math professor - have brought their annual drive to provide shoes to the homeless with them to the Herd.



            It's a combined effort by the Chris Duhon Stand Tall Foundation and the Art of Stepping foundation, with which his wife is associated. The first "Sneakers to Succeed" drive in the Tri-State area is also supported by the Marshall Tipoff Club.

            "We've had a lot of success when we've had shoe drives (in their previous basketball stops)," Andrea Duhon said. "We don't have a specific goal, but 1,000 pairs of shoes would be nice for the first time here. We want to get as much of the public and the Marshall students involved as we can."

            Here's how it works ... The Herd is collecting pairs of new or "gently used" sneakers at every men's and women's basketball home game for the remainder of the 2014-15 season. When fans drop off the shoes at a Henderson Center ticketing location, they can receive a $5 discount on a single-game seat, and they also get a raffle ticket.

            About a dozen prizes will be available in the raffle, including gift cards are area restaurants and retailers and autographed NBA memorabilia. Some winners will be drawn at the final men's home date (Feb. 28), the remainder at the last women's home game (March 7).

            The drive also is accepting checks - written to the Stand Tall Foundation - and Andrea Duhon said those checks will be cashed to buy shoes at a local discount location "so we can provide as many shoes as possible for those dollars."

            Duhon's Stand Tall Foundation dates to 2005, when the former Duke guard, having just finished his rookie NBA season in Chicago, got seriously involved in charity work and provided more than $450,000 of goods and supplies to his hometown of Slidell, La.

            The foundation also created Operation 21, to repair and renovate 21 parks in his hometown, which was devastated by Katrina's impact. The Duhon Foundation also has provided scholarships to youth in St. Tammany Parish (La.).

            In the last five years - since his foundation has teamed with the Art of Stepping charity - Duhon said more than 10,000 pairs of shoes have been provided in Louisiana, Orlando and Los Angeles. AOS has done similar work in New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Illinois and Indiana, among other locales.

            Now, it's Huntington's turn for the Sneakers to Succeed Campaign - also known as S2 - that was launched in July 2011 by AOS and Stand Tall.

            "We're here now, so we do it here; we'll do it here as long as we're here," the Herd assistant coach said.

            Aaron Goebbel, Marshall's associate athletic director for external operations, said the "Sneakers to Succeed" shoes and proceeds will go to the Children's Home Society, a statewide program.

            "Not only is it a great cause, but it's a perfect marriage," Goebbel said. "Maybe there are basketball fans that need some extra encouragement to attend some of our games, and this not only gives them a chance to get involved, but gives them the opportunity to get discounted tickets and win some pretty neat prizes.

            It's a good partnership, not only good for our athletic department, but also the Tipoff Club. For us to be involved with something philanthropic like this, and for Chris to have the name he has and be part of our staff and to use his name to make something like happen .... It's just great."

            The "Sneakers to Succeed" program is an outgrowth of the marriage of the Art of Stepping Foundation, which provides financial aid to programs that enhance artistic expression, including dance and stepping. The step teachings are rooted in mathematical foundations.

            "My wife's involvement there ... We combined with them (AOS), joined with them in this campaign to help the homeless."

            A few years ago, when Duhon played for the Orlando Magic, the couple brought the "Sneakers to Succeed" program to fruition.

            "It was after '60 Minutes' did a story on homelessness in Seminole County and how many children were affected," said Dr. Duhon, who was a high school teacher while her husband played for the Magic. "It was shown that there were 1,752 homeless children in the county, so we made that number our goal.

            "It was called Operation 1-7-5-2, and we created a competition among the high schools in the area. We didn't just meet our goal. We provided more than 2,300 pairs of shoes from one drive. It was exciting to be able to give kids help in all those areas in Orlando."

            She said the ability to provide sneakers to help children become more mobile also ties into the AOS goal to use physical activity to help fight obesity.

            "It all ties together," Dr. Duhon said.

            Just like those sneakers.