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UK coaches Calipari, Elzy deliver new shoes to Eastern Kentucky flood survivors

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Posted at 4:19 PM, Aug 23, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-23 18:14:42-04

PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (LEX 18) — The focus in Eastern Kentucky has changed from flood cleanup to bigger projects, including infrastructure, and getting schools ready to open. But many basics that we take for granted are in short supply.

UK head basketball coach John Calipari and his UK coaching friends headed to Eastern Kentucky to help in a selfless way.

Hundreds waiting patiently in line in Floyd County for two hours to get new shoes from Samaritan's Feet and a chance to meet their hero: Coach Cal.

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Joined by other head coaches from UK and Lt. Governor Jacqueline Coleman, Coach Cal made it a point to do more than just hand out shoes. They made a gesture that Calipari hopes will last much longer.

"Jesus washed the disciples' feet. They thought they served him, but he served them," said Coach Cal. "It's also a chance for us as coaches to put ourselves below them and say, 'hey, we're here for ya.'"

"You know, there are better days ahead, and they are strong, and they can get through this time," said UK women's head basketball coach Kyra Elzy. "We have a responsibility to the state of Kentucky, so it's an honor to be here."

Samantha Rowe and her family don't have much to call their own these days.

"We basically lost everything we own," she said. "It's like you work all your life and just open your door and start slinging out everything you've worked hard for... just to garbage."

So for them, and most everyone here, a pair of new shoes is something to hold on to.

"They have lost everything, but this is a symbolic gesture to say keep walking, in spite of everything," said Manny Ohonme, founder of Samaritan's Feet. "In spite of their challenge, in spite of their trouble, we believe in them and we are standing with them. And we hope greater things are going to come from this."

After the stop in Prestonsburg, the coaches moved on to Buckhorn to hand out hundreds of more shoes... and I'm sure, more hugs as well.