APPLETON – Green Bay Packers running back Aaron Jones brought a rush of smiles to the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Fox Valley Appleton building Tuesday, when he personally handed out brand new Adidas shoes to a roomful of excited children.
The shoes were a part of Jones' Yards for Shoes campaign, which first launched during the 2020-21 NFL playoff season. Yards for Shoes, which comes as a partnership between Jones' family's nonprofit A&A All the Way and Cousins Subs, donates a pair of shoes to a child for every rushing yard that Jones gains.
During last year's playoffs, Jones rushed 126 yards, and Yards for Shoes donated 126 pairs of shoes to children at Green Bay elementary and middle schools. For the 2021-22 season, A&A All the Way and Cousins Subs extended the Yards for Shoes campaign for the entire season.
With Jones' 799 yards and 42 additional shoe donations from Packers fans, Yards for Shoes was able to give away 841 pairs of Adidas shoes to kids at Boys & Girls Clubs across the state. Of those, 200 pairs of shoes are going to children in the Fox Valley.
“I play running back and every yard matters to me," Jones said at Tuesday's event. "And this campaign shows it – I’m fighting for every yard out there on the field and a kid will be rewarded for every yard I rush."
The excitement at the Appleton Boys & Girls Club was palpable. Jones chatted with the children as he personally handed out shoeboxes to the room of about 50 kids. One girl said she never wanted to take her new shoes off.
"A lot of the young people that we serve at the Boys & Girls Club do live in lower-income households — not all, but a majority of them do. And it would not be a normal thing for them to be able to get a really nice new pair of Adidas shoes," Boys & Girls Clubs of the Fox Valley CEO Greg Lemke-Rochon said.
Justin McCoy, vice president of marketing for Cousins Subs, said the Wisconsin-based sandwich company has been grateful for the opportunity to work with A & A All the Way.
"We're really excited to partner with Aaron, his foundation and all the good work that he's doing in the community. He's an upstanding member of this community and his commitment to giving back is just bar none, and it fits really well with our commitment to the community as well," McCoy said.
Jones said seeing the smiles on kids' faces as he handed out shoes warmed his heart.
"Hopefully we can do this next year and get to 1,000," Jones said.
Contact Kelli Arseneau at (920) 213-3721 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @ArseneauKelli.