By James O’Brien
Wayne Elsey had been a shoe man almost all his life. From humble beginnings as a stock boy in a shoe store, Elsey went on to hold leadership roles at a number of shoe companies. And he might have stayed in the shoe business if he hadn’t turned on the television one day in 2004.
The ocean floor off the coast of Sumatra had shattered, sending massive waves ashore. Villages, towns and cities were destroyed. Nearly a quarter of a million people lost their lives. But amid the destruction, a lone image gave Elsey an idea that would change the lives of thousands of survivors and eventually create thousands of small businesses in developing nations.
“I saw this single shoe wash up on the shore,” Elsey said. “And it just rocked my world.”
For Elsey, the lone shoe was a sign. Leveraging his business experience, corporate resources, and the advice of logistics experts, Elsey created Soles4Souls, a non-profit that would send 250,000 shoes to communities struck by the waves.
Since its founding in 2004, Soles4Souls has distributed more than 19 million pairs of shoes to those affected by natural [...]