A relief fund created by former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former Navajo Nation President Peterson Zah teamed up with four-time PGA Tour winner Notah Begay III and his foundation to deliver 300 pairs of Nike shoes on Thursday. They gathered at the Dream Diné Charter School in Shiprock to distribute the goods.
With no shoe stores on the Navajo Nation, organizers said they began getting tearful messages of appreciation from Navajo moms once they learned about the donation.
The relief fund was started last year to help get personal protective equipment and other supplies to the Navajo Nation during the pandemic. That included everything from food and water to diapers and funds to help with burial costs.
The tribe that stretches into Arizona, New Mexico and Utah was hit particularly hard early in the pandemic with one of the country’s highest COVID-19 infection rates. Access to health care and basic services is limited, and tribal officials enacted shutdowns, curfews and weekend lockdowns to try to prevent the spread of the virus.
Officials with the relief fund said the donation of Nike shoes along with grants for sports equipment and apparel were another way they could focus on serving Navajo youth.
Begay’s organization – the NB3 Foundation – was able to get a 50% discount on the shoes, which enabled the relief fund to double its buying power. The partners are planning to distribute another 300 pairs of shoes in the fall.
Nike shoe designer Lacey Trujillo, who is Navajo and from Fruitland, selected the shoes that were given to the Navajo children.