The story behind the first annual Columbus Sneakerball

By Hailey Stangebye

To understand the motivation behind the first annual Columbus Sneakerball, you need to remember what it felt like to walk into the first day of middle school.

Daunting, I know.

If you’re anything like me, you had your outfit planned at least a week in advance — from the part of your hair to the laces in your sneakers. It was nerve-wracking. This was your fresh start, your school photo, your first impression. I loved obsessing over the details that would make me both fit in and stick out. But, bubbling just under the crust was a pool of molten anxiety that was ready to explode. What if I say something embarrassing? What if there’s food in my teeth? What is someone makes fun of my shoes?

Upon reminiscing, we realized that so many people are united in this shared experience. We talked about what it felt like to wear hand-me-down shoes that slipped off while running, or pinched in the toes. We talked about the sensation of slipping into a new pair of shoes that you’ve wanted for years. We talked about the trials of underserved youth in our community. Above all, we discussed how important it is to feel included.

With these memories fresh in our minds, we created the first annual Columbus Sneakerball as a way to pay tribute to sneaker culture, as well as to give back to the youth served by Franklin County Children Services. Our mission was to throw a phenomenal event for this city that was two parts fly, and one part why. Two parts, a dope experience for the community. One part, a way to uplift local kids.

Columbus Sneakerball consists of two events: a high-fashion gala and a pop-up sneaker boutique. At the gala on May 4, we encouraged our guests to pair their finest formalwear with their freshest kicks. This event raised awareness and funds for the soul of our project: the pop-up sneaker boutique.

With the funds that we’ve raised, we’re going to create a VIP sneaker shopping experience for a group of kids who are under the care of Franklin County Children Services. We don’t only want to give these kids some much-needed, practical footwear; we want to eliminate the stigma of receiving discounted or free goods.

Every child that enters our sneaker boutique will be treated like a genuine VIP. They’ll leave the experience with a new pair of shoes and, hopefully, a valuable boost in self-confidence. If you want to contribute to this cause or get more involved, then reach out. We’d love to include the broader community!