The South Shore Convention and Visitor Authority has partnered with the Red Shoe Project to help local children have access to athletic shoes. Red Shoe Project, an organization started by Hanover High School sophomore Eric Lakomek, collects athletic shoes and equipment to provide to less fortunate children and teens.


"I noticed that a lot of kids in the Cedar Lake community didn't have (sports) equipment to play with, so I decided to collect it and pass it out to the families so that underprivileged kids could have the opportunity to play like I can," said Lakomek. The project has provided equipment for Cedar Lake Little League, as well as basketballs and soccer balls for Cedar Lake's Jane Ball Elementary School.


One of Lakomek's goals with the Red Shoe Project is to see it expand outside of the Hanover community. Through the partnership with the South Shore CVA, 50 pairs of baseball cleats that were collected during the 2014 NSA Girls Fast Pitch "B" World Series were recently donated. Rick Flutka, sports development manager for the South Shore CVA, will also assist Lakomek with connecting with athletic directors throughout the region so that local high school baseball and softball players can donate unwanted equipment following their seasons each spring.


"The South Shore CVA felt the Red Shoe Project was a great opportunity to help give back to the community," said Flutka. "The Red Shoe Project has a great foundation. We look forward to working with Eric as he achieves his mission to help children and teens throughout the region."


Giving back to others isn't a new concept for Lakomek. In addition to expanding the Red Shoe Project, Lakomek hopes to one day become a doctor. He began the project the summer of his freshman year in honor of his grandmother, AnnaFaye Beard.


"Every year, my grandma used to buy me red baseball shoes, and she passed away. In memory of her, I named it the Red Shoe Project," stated Lakomek, who to this day is still the only baseball player on the field who wears red shoes.