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Jeff Kolpack, Published April 11 2012

Four students to run barefoot for a cause

Fargo - North Dakota State students got a glimpse of the Samaritan’s Feet charity when head men’s basketball coach Saul Phillips coached a game without shoes and socks. Four NDSU students are taking that cause to another level.

They’re going to run the Fargo Marathon relay in their bare feet.

Jon Scislow, Mike Zastoupil, Zach Ficenec and Robbie Lauf will take turns running the 26.2 miles in four separate legs at the annual event May 19. The quest, in essence, has already started.

The members of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity at NDSU, which includes the four barefoot runners, are in the midst of a fundraiser for Samaritan’s Feet, going two weeks without wearing shoes. Training for the marathon also started when Scislow went on a three-mile run.

“It wasn’t as bad as I expected,” he said of his first extended barefoot run. “You run a little different. You’re more careful. You tend to land on the balls of your feet instead of going heel to toe. I had a few blisters but not too bad.”

The trooper in the group is Ficenec, who gave his OK to the marathon because he thought it was a walk for the American Cancer’s Relay for Life.

“Then he found out what we were really doing,” Scislow said. “He said, ‘I guess I won’t back out now.’”

Scislow got the idea after attending a leadership lecture on campus presented by Greg Tehven, a co-founder of a volunteer organization called Students Today Leaders Forever.

Tehven challenged those in attendance to do something to change the world.

Scislow said he came up with some “cop out” answer that didn’t sit well with him after the lecture. Still bothering him, later, he came up with the Samaritan’s Feet idea.

Samaritan’s Feet got its inception in 2003, and the mission in Scislow’s case is every $10 donation will provide a child either in the United States or worldwide a pair of shoes.

“It’s awesome that such a small donation can make such a big difference,” Scislow said.

It also fits naturally with this year’s Fargo Marathon campaign of “Shoes for Kids, which aims to provide 1,000 local kids with a new pair of running shoes. To fund it, $1 from every 5K registration will be matched by Dakota Medical Foundation and Blue Cross Blue Shield.

The marathon is hoping for 10,000 participants in the 5K.

The Delta Tau Delta runners are hoping their bare feet will last 26.2 miles.

“For us, it’s a choice to go barefoot,” Scislow said.

For kids abroad and around the world, it is not a choice.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found

at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia