Kasey Fields has loads of talent and energy just waiting to be used to improve the lives of others. Lexington’s School for the Creative and Performing Arts, where Kasey attends, helped her harness those traits into showing some remarkable leadership when she was a sixth-grader. The school, along with her highly supportive parents, produced a real winner of a kid!
Kasey said she was inspired by one of her teachers, Melanie Stivers, “to find ways I could change our world for the better.” She began searching for ideas, but couldn’t seem to settle on one.
“I kept coming back to wanting to focus on education, exercise, and our environment,” Kasey continued. “Then one Sunday at church during announcements, a volunteer came up to talk about Soles 4 Souls, an organization that collects gently used shoes for needy people worldwide. I learned that there are people in other countries who can’t even go to school if they don’t have shoes. That’s devastating. I decided I wanted to work and fix this problem.”
Kasey decided to hold a five-kilometer race and asked participants to donate one or more pairs of gently used shoes as a registration fee. With that plan, she could both gather shoes to help others and promote exercise.
However, it was not easy to bring the event to a successful completion. First, she had to find a location. When she did, there were costs, rules, and even an insurance policy to buy. That took about two months. She had to get about a dozen volunteers to help on the day of the event. In the weeks and days leading up to the event, Kasey was nearly overwhelmed by the “adult” responsibilities she had in preparing for her project of compassion, but she kept her focus on finding good advice–which she did–and the fact that she was helping “change our world for the better.”
Kasey will never forget the special Soles 4 Souls day as it unfolded on May 23, 2011. “I was really excited and nervous, too,” she said. “It turned out to be one of the most memorable days of my life! One hundred and forty-two people raced and spectators came to show support and donate shoes. By the end of the day, I had collected almost 800 pairs of shoes! The next day my team boxed and shipped the shoes to a distribution center. From there, the shoes I’d helped to collect were shipped to people all around the world. I learned my shipment went to Haiti and Africa.”
Ms. Stivers, her teacher, could barely contain her enthusiasm when talking about her energetic and committed pupil.
“She was leading a large effort, with many moving parts and a whole team of volunteers acting under her supervision. In addition to her studies, speech team, swimming, dancing, and running, Kasey volunteers countless hours and incredibly positive energy…(and) Kasey wants to use her unique talents and passion to make a positive contribution to her community and to our world.”
Because of her work, largely for the shoe project, Kasey was recently awarded the Nicholas Green Distinguished Student Award given for a student who “has not only achieved in academics, leadership or the arts but also contributed to the community at a level beyond his or her age expectations.”
Kasey’s mother, Kathy Fields, remarked, “Once Kasey gets it in her mind she wants to do something, she is very persistent about it. She has an ‘anything’s possible’ outlook which, I think, helps people jump on board with her ideas.”
In a world that is full of challenges, it’s refreshing to see a youngster “fill the shoes” of ones usually much older than her through her positive leadership in her community.
On that count, Kasey Fields is off and running!
Steve Flairty is a life-long Kentuckian, a teacher, public speaker and an author of three books, a biography of Kentucky Afield host Tim Farmer and two “Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes,” collections of stories about ordinary people who do extraordinary things. Kentucky’s Everyday Heroes for Kids is available now at many bookstores around the state or from the author.. This piece is an excerpt from that book. Steve is a correspondent for Kentucky Monthly. His column for KyForward appears weekly. Contact him at email@example.com.