He did not get his first pair of shoes until he was 9. It changed his life and eventually he left Nigeria, came to America and achieved all of his dreams.
That is when Manny Ohonme founded Samaritan's Feet (www.samaritansfeet.org/). Since then more than 5 million children worldwide have received a new pair of shoes.
On Friday a bunch of kids were trying on shoes and having their feet washed by volunteers at Streets Ministries on Vance Avenue. After a closer look and talking to a few people you learn there is a lot more going on here than meets the eye.
It is a lesson in life for everyone at Streets Ministries. The kids need shoes and volunteers feel the need to help others. At the end of the day everybody gets what they want and, more importantly, what they need.
The volunteers washing children's feet and handing out shoes and school supplies was part of Samaritan's Feet Shoe Distribution Back to School Drive.
"I think it's pretty nice," said Dreshon Thomas, who had his feet washed. "Pretty cool, yes."
In addition to each kid getting a new pair of shoes they each get an extra pair, a pair of Crocks provided by Smith and Nephew in Memphis. Then they go home with the kids and they are going to give them to somebody else.
"Here today we not only give them shoes we also give them another pair of shoes," said Manny. "To have them find somebody to pay forward to give it to, to me that's one of the greatest lessons our children can learn - to be generous."
The other great lesson learned is that it really is better to give than receive.
"It's about serving, leadership," added Manny, "The beauty of our distribution is our volunteers get to humble themselves. They get to see from a different vantage point.
"It's not just another charity event where you come hand out things and walk away, he added. "You have to spend time with them. You have to know those kids and their dreams."
From one dreamer to another and it happens every year in Memphis and around the world.