After spending years getting roughed up on the field, many NFL players look forward to a comfortable retirement that involves relaxing on a beach and maybe dabbling in some high-profile broadcast work. But that kind of lap of luxury isn’t for Steve Smith.
The Carolina Panthers wide receiver, who has spent 12 years playing, is using this season to ease into the humanitarian hobby he plans to pursue after he leaves football behind -- serving the homeless. Before every away game, the buff do-gooder plans to don a pair of blue surgical gloves and offer up foot rubs and a pair of brand new shoes to homeless people in need, Old Northeast Patch reports.
“This is the opportunity for me to give back to serve –- to kind of, really for me, open the next chapter of life,” Smith told FOX News.
Smith completed his inaugural foot-washing campaign in Clearwater, Fla., on Sept. 8 for 400 homeless people before his game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He told Old Northeast Patch that once he retires, he plans on taking his mission across the globe, to help the impoverished.
To complete his goal of giving away 500,000 pairs of shoes, the benevolent athlete has teamed up with Samaritan’s Feet, a nonprofit that is working to help 300 million people around the world who are without shoes.
The organization is not religiously affiliated, and simply sees the ritual of washing someone’s feet as another way to elevate those who are facing hard times.
"This is the greatest example of service," Manny Ohonme, Samaritan's Feet co-founder and CEO, told the Huffington Post last August. "And that's our model, which isn't just about spirituality, but also a display of humility. The greatest gift among us is to serve, and what better way to do that than to humble yourself in front of a child and wash their feet?"
Though Smith is eager to hit his goal of handing out half a million pairs, he’s just as determined to engage with the people he meets, and give them reason to feel hopeful.
“When you take off your shoes, your socks, it reveals everything about you,” Smith told Old Northeast Patch. “It’s such a private and personal gesture ... for some people that’s the first time their feet have been touched by someone else.”