#10: Al Gauthier's Living Barefoot and Barefoot Moe in the News
Barefooters made some headlines this year and gained prominence on the internet. Al Gauthier used his Web programming and design prowess to develop Living Barefoot, a site that encourages barefooted living, hosts a podcast, provides reviews of minimalist shoes and operates a forum for barefooters to share with each other. Al's site, along with Barefoot Moe's Barefoot in Toronto site, drummed up a lot of requests from Canadian and U.S. news media interested in sharing the barefooters' story. One of the biggest stories was "No Shoes? No Problem!" published in Canada's The Globe and Mail (photo courtesy: The Globe and Mail).
Tellman Knudson (pictured, center), a self-proclaimed geek and CEO of several online marketing companies, has a passion for homeless youth. What's more, he throws himself head-first into anything he does. Put those traits together and you have the perfect recipe for a barefooted cross-country run to raise $100 million. He started out on Sept. 9 in New York and is running unshod to L.A. to drum up awareness and lots of money for homeless youth throughout the United States. There have been some hiccups along the way -- such as a heel injury -- but he's taken it all in stride and is determined to finish what he's started. Meanwhile, he is mentioned daily on Twitter and frequently in news stories for his efforts. Keep up the good run, Tellman!
On the Web: http://www.runtellmanrun.com
Photo from: The Epoch Times
#8: Vibram Fivefingers
The Vibram Fivefingers (VFFs) line of footwear is widely hailed to be just like going barefooted. Although we barefooters might dispute that, VFFs are a wonderful minimalist shoe for those that want to cast aside their restrictive, heavy and uncomfortable footwear. These shoes were released prior to 2009 but really made their splash in society this year. They've been featured in the U.S. on national TV programming such as NBC's Today and the syndicated Dr. Oz show. Popular tech site Wired.com even did a review of them in July, but they gained widespread fame due to word of mouth, captivated stares from the public and a big mention in a certain book about running. More on that later. The VFFs even have fan sites devoted to them, the most well known of them being Justin Owings' BirthdayShoes.com.
VFFs on the Web: http://www.vibramfivefingers.com
#7: DiCaprio Goes Barefooted After His Sneakers are Stolen
I'm a little embarrassed to say that this story even made my list and came in at #7. But alas, many throughout the world heard about this back in June. It turns out that actor Leonardo DiCaprio, star of several blockbuster films including Titanic, was the victim of theft after refusing to take a photo with some American fans. He was about to enter a temple and refused the photo because posted signs prohibited photography in that area. After he entered the temple sans shoes, the fans grabbed his footwear and split. The New York Post, The Insider and numerous other tabloid media outlets worldwide quoted one source who said, "The poor guy had to leave the place barefoot." I say, "Ain't nothing wrong with that."
#6: Bare Your Soles for a Cause
2009 was a big year for going barefooted to help the world's impoverished. The idea behind these movements was to bring awareness to and accept donations for those throughout the world who have no shoes, are fighting poverty or have HIV/AIDS. The band Hanson partnered with Toms Shoes to stage numerous barefooted walks and a whole day encouraging supporters to go barefooted. Together, they've been very successful in bringing help to people throughout the world. Churches throughout the U.S. also joined together this year in donating shoes as part of the Soles4Souls charity. Parishoners were encouraged to donate the shoes they wore on "Barefoot Sunday" (June 7) and leave barefooted, giving them a sense of what it's like to live life without shoes. Bilaal Rajan (pictured), a 13-year old boy from Toronto, even went barefooted for a week during his "Barefoot Challenge" in April to bring awareness to children living in poverty throughout the world. Since beginning his charity work when he was four -- yes, four -- years old, Rajan has raised millions of dollars. His "Barefoot Challenge" will be an annual event falling during Volunteer Week each April.
On the Web: Take the Walk Web site (Hanson and Toms Shoes)
Photo from: Global Arab Network
#5: The "Barefoot Bandit"
The aforementioned Leo DiCaprio starred in the film Catch Me If You Can, but that kind of real-life scenario is playing out in the northwest United States. Colton Harris-Moore, an 18-year old with a penchant for stealing airplanes for joy-flights, has been eluding law enforcement in the state of Washington for months. He's known by many as the "Barefoot Bandit" or "Barefoot Burglar," because he reportedly once kicked off his shoes in the woods to flee from police and often goes barefooted to avoid detection via shoeprints. Barely a legal adult, Colton started his life of crime early, stealing a bicycle when he was eight. He's graduated up a couple of notches and is believed to have stolen at least three aircraft and committed nearly 100 burglaries over the last year -- not just in Washington, but also Idaho and southern Canada.
More info: AFP article
#4: Barefooted Baby Booted from Burger King
The home of flame-broiled burgers had some 'splainin' to do in August when one of their restaurants in St. Louis, Missouri, forced a shod mother and her unshod six-month-old to leave. The reason? The baby was breaking the rule requiring shoes in the restaurant. Never mind the fact that the baby couldn't walk yet. Jennifer Frederich was required to get the food "to go" because the manager said that the baby's socked feet were a health code violation (which it's not). What's more, the employee also threatened to call the police when she questioned the policy. In the end, Burger King made right by Frederich by offering her an apology and free food, saying employees took the No Shoes, No Service policy too far.
More info: Fox News article
#3: "Barefoot and Crazy" in the "Summertime"
Ah, the staples of summer: Drinkin' beers, swimmin' in the pond, makin' out and doin' it all barefoot! Well, singer Jack Ingram wrapped all that up into a catchy country song called "Barefoot and Crazy" and released it to the world in 2009. It became an huge hit, getting all the way up to number 10 on the Billboard Country chart. Listening to the song makes a person think back to their younger years while, at the same time, providing a driving rhythm worth driving to. Standing right next to Ingram's song is Kenny Chesney's "Summertime." Its chorus starts off with "And it's two bare feet on the dashboard. Young love in an old Ford..."That song made it all the way to number one on the Billboard Country chart, but it gets mentioned second in this space because it wasn't called "Two Bare Feet on the Dashboard." Tough break.
#2: Tiger was "Barefoot and Snoring"
No, my faithful reader, not even here can you escape the evil clutches of the Tiger Woods scandal. I'll try to make this brief: Right after the pro golfer had his unfortunate -- ahem -- "accident" in late November, he was found in the street by his neighbor, Jarius Adams, "unconscious, barefoot and snoring." Ah, now it all makes sense! Listen Tiger, like first starting anything barefooted, you can't just drive barefooted without a little acclimation period first. Now look what happened. Too much, too soon. You should have stayed in bed...with your wife. (moving right along...)
Photo from: Sacramento Scoop
#1: Born to Run and Barefoot Running
NOTHING made bigger waves for bare feet this year than Christopher McDougall's smash hit book Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Super Athletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen. This story about the Tarahumara tribe in Mexico, who can run great distances in simple sandals, opened the floodgates of people interested in trying out running sans shoes. McDougall has made numerous national media appearances promoting the book and barefooted running, including the ever-popular Daily Show on Comedy Central:
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
While it's hard to say how many more people are trying barefooted running, the story has certainly opened a new and fresh conversation in the running community. Barefoot Ted, who is a prominent "character" in the book, has reported to the Living Barefoot Show podcast that interest in his business of training barefooted runners has increased dramatically. Adoption of my #8 item listed above, Vibram Fivefingers, skyrocketed following the book's mention of the product. Time will tell if this book began a long-term trend of barefooted running or simply introduced a "fad" that will soon die down. Either way, it was a good thing for bare feet and allows folks like me to participate in the conversation about how barefooted living can be such a good thing.
On the Web: Born to Run
Who knows what the year 2010 will mean for bare feet. Who knows if we barefooters can make a dent in many of the hardened stereotypes and misconceptions about going unshod. All I know is that I'm looking forward to the warmer weather and I'm going to do what I can to open people's eyes and unlock their feet to new possibilities. Thanks for reading and I welcome your comments below.
Have a Happy New Year!,