It Was a Lulu Named Lolo at Findley Elementary School

Olympian (and DMPS alum) Lolo Jones worked with organizations to make sure every student at Findley had a new pair of shoes.

There were no stopwatches involved but Lolo Jones may have turned in one of her personal best events this morning at Findley Elementary School  where she partnered with Samaritan’s Feet, a globally scoped nonprofit organization dedicated to shoeing the barefoot, and provided each and every Findley student with a new pair of shoes.

LO, LO, LO – Merry Christmas!

There wasn’t always the Lolo Jones Foundation. There weren’t always Olympic sprints and bobsleds. She hasn’t always been a celebrity.

Back in the days when she attended the now defunct Brooks Elementary, Weeks and Callanan Middle Schools and Roosevelt High School, there were times when Lolo needed shoes and lacked the means to get them for herself. Somebody was always there to help her out and she remembers how they felt, the need and the deed. So today she paid back and forward the kindness that others showed her.

There’s nothing like a new pair of shoes to put extra spring in a kid’s step. They typically walk into shoe stores and skip out. Multiply that dynamic times several hundred and you’ve got the picture of the Findley gym this morning. A volunteer force some 70 strong was waiting to fit the kids who plopped into position to be reshod wearing name tags that included their shoe size to keep things moving.

For Findley Principal Tara Owen and her staff, today was just the latest in a series of momentous days at the office that includes visits by Oscar-winning actor Forest Whitaker and an extreme field trip by a delegation to the White House for lunch with First Lady Michelle Obama. “When the Samaritans called and asked if they could drop by with Lolo and her foundation, I said, ‘Yes’!” explained Owen. “How great is this?”

The mass fitting was the anchor leg of a relay that began at the Super Bowl a year ago when Lolo’s people ran into Samaritan’s Feet people. The group’s work resonated with the famous speedster who remembers where she came from and recognizes she didn’t get where she’s got without lots of help.

“People gave me shoes when I needed them and couldn’t afford new ones,” Lolo said at a press conference in the Findley library. “They had no way of knowing they were helping a future Olympian. They were just doing the right thing.”

Later in the gym Lolo’s message to the kids was one she personifies: the twin powers of determination and belief in oneself. “I didn’t make it into the Olympics the first time I tried,” she told them. “But I kept trying until I did.”

The mission of Lolo’s foundation is to empower and inspire individuals who face the most socio-economic hardships to realize their potential. The mission is supported by donations from individuals, corporations, grants, and fundraising. At this morning’s press conference the foundation accepted a billboard-sized check from BP for $10,000.

The foundation targets the following demographic(s):

  • Families of incarcerated loved ones
  • Poverty stricken communities and youth
  • Single mothers

Lolo also made sure young runners got some support during her trip back to Des Moines. She dropped by Harding Middle School to host a “Fun Run” with about 150 student members of the Des Moines Area Youth Running Club (her club while a student in Des Moines), the Central Iowa Excalibur’s and Iowa Kid Strong. The event was sponsored by ASICS, Jones and representatives of her foundation, with a reward of a new pair of running shoes for each student who participated.

Back at Findley, they are officially the home of the Polar Bear Cubs. But unofficially the place is overrun – at least today – with Samaritans and hurdlers, one of them a local lulu named Lolo.

Photos of Lolo Jones’ Visit to Findley Elementary School

DMPS-TV Report on Lolo Jones Events at Findley and Harding

Published on