Regent Grad Changing Lives With a Shoe That Grows
When Kenton Lee went on a missions trip to orphanages in Ecuador and Kenya, he saw the struggles those children face every day. But out of the many needs they had, one grabbed his attention. Kenton says, “I remember that right next to me was a little girl in a white dress. As I looked down I was absolutely shocked at how small her shoes were. It just really bugged me, and I looked around and a lot of the kids had on shoes that were way too small.
Kenton learned how dangerous it is for children in developing countries, who either don’t have shoes that fit properly, or have no shoes at all. “They're walking around and they're getting cuts and scrapes and burns, and now their feet are open and these parasites and these diseases enter their body through their feet. I just thought, ‘There's got to be a better way to do this.’”
When Kenton returned to the U.S, he decided to start a non-profit organization to help these kids, but wasn’t sure how to make it happen. So he enrolled in Regent University’s masters program in organizational leadership. “I wanted to learn more about leadership, I wanted to learn more about organizations and how they function and so this was a great one-year program that I could do online and be flexible with my life.” While taking the on-line program, he came up with an idea to solve the orphan’s problem.
On a piece of paper, he sketched out a design for a shoe that would grow with a child’s foot. After months of rejections and closed doors, he found a design company in Portland, OR, that loved his idea and brought it to life. “I still remember getting the box in the mail that had the final prototype and thinking, "This has been so much work and so much energy and so many prayers.” I remember opening it up and looking at it and holding it and moving the snaps and everything and just being thrilled.” He called it “the shoe that grows”. Kenton demonstrates, “It can grow in three main places. It grows in the front, with this post and these holes; it grows on each side with heavy-duty snaps; and then it grows on the back with our buckle.”
By now Kenton had finished his Regent master’s, and established his non-profit organization, because international. After a promotional video of “the shoe that grows” went viral, money came in and they were able to ship 35,000 pairs to kids in 40 countries. “We had so much support and donations and interest and media attention, things just took off in April of last year, and it turned our organization upside down. Turned my life upside down, uh and uh we have never been the same since then.” Today Kenton’s organization is still growing. “I really felt that God put this in front of me and that it was my job to keep saying, 'yes' to pursue and go after it.” He says going to Regent University empowered him to follow God’s plan for his life, and make children’s lives a little better. “Without that year, with the master’s program at Regent, I don’t know if ‘the shoe that grows will be here today’. It’s such a big part of my life and our work. It really helped to change my life.”