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Braden Aboud Foundation gives Johnson Elementary Students New Shoes

Most kids believe that a new pair of sneakers makes them run faster. If it’s true then Johnson Elementary School was full of world-class sprinters last Thursday.

Thanks to the Braden Aboud Memorial Foundation more than 500 students were running, jumping and — above all — smiling in their brand new Nikes on April 14.

“These make me jump higher,” student Candice Morris said in between jumps.

This is the ninth year the foundation has donated new shoes to students in El Paso, a mighty cause that not only honors the foundation’s namesake but also brings joy to hundreds of kids each year.

“The students are very excited about receiving the shoes,” teacher Patricia Castor said. “It is such a great honor for our school to be picked.”

The Braden Aboud Great Shoe Giveaway kicked off in high sprits with a pep rally at the school’s soccer field. The whole student body gathered on the grassy field to give thanks to the foundation and all the volunteers that made the event possible.

The Morehead Middle School band and the Coronado cheer squad provided extra pep to the event. Student Council students from Franklin and Coronado high schools were also on hand to help outfit feet.

unnamed (19)“The students look forward to it,” said Coronado Student Activities Manager Kelly Groves. “A lot of them were exhausted from state competition, but they just don’t want to miss this.”

EPISD Board President Dori Fenenbock and Superintendent Juan Cabrera beamed with gratitude for the tremendous community effort, which Fenenbock likened to the saying “it takes a village to raise a child.”

“It is great to receive this kind of support in making sure our kids grow in a healthful, happy and strong,” Cabrera said.

The event required the cooperation of students, faculty and staff, as well as parents and community volunteers who take the time to measure the students’ feet and encourage them to be outstanding students.

Schools are chosen each year based on the percentage of economically disadvantaged that make up their enrollment and the school’s willingness to help children earn their shoes through fitness and positive behavior.

The Braden Aboud Memorial Foundation was established in 2007 to honor the legacy of the late Braden Aboud, a student at Lincoln Middle School who died tragically in a skiing accident.

“We are always looking for schools where there is not enough money for families to buy clothes or shoes,” said Gary Aboud, Braden Aboud’s father. “For us it is really important to help provide these new shoes to the students who need them the most.”

The school’s wellness coordinator Joanne Sullivan recognized the potential of the event at Johnson and submitted the application last year. The school received notification in November it had been chosen for the giveaway.

“It seemed like a really great way to get the kids inspired to do physical activity, follow campus expectations and work towards their shoes,” Sullivan said.

The students took the challenge to heart, racking up points for good behavior and participating in physical activities.

An event called the “Walking Bus” is fifth-grader Jennifer Bueno’s favorite.

“I think this is so great,” Jennifer said. “Everyone is so happy. I hope I get pink shoes.”

Luckily for Jennifer, her shoes were pink.

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