MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - An 8th grader at Ocean Bay Middle School in Myrtle Beach is trying to reach another teen thousand of miles away in Kenya. He got the idea to start a used shoe drive at his school to help a family bring the 17-year-old teen suffering from a debilitating leg injury to the United States to get life saving surgery.
At first, Alex Orlando, a student at Ocean Bay Middle School thought it was just cool. "I like helping other people and it's just like a cool story what the Coles Family has been doing," he said.
Orlando's idea to start a shoe drive has turned into something much cooler. "I have been talking with my friends and they are all in with me and they are going to donate," said the baseball athlete.
The students are donating used shoes to help Brayen Otieno, 17, who lives in a small village in Sanjweru, Kenya. During a mission trip the local organization Touching Lives met Brayen. In 2010, the teen scraped his right knee while playing soccer.
Bobby Coles and his family want to bring Brayen to the U.S to live with them and get him much needed medical attention. "Over the last several years that scraped knee turned into a major infection to where he still is in jeopardy of losing leg and his life. The Coles Family and Touching Lives have been working together to get the teen medical help.
Coles said Brayen's small village does not have clean water, antibiotic ointment, and bandages, as a result his knee and then his bone became infected.
In 2011, Brayen began treatment, under the oversight of Touching Lives Ministry. He has had three surgical procedures.
Coles' son Michael Coles was the first to meet Brayen. "I was holding his hand and holding one hand on his knee and I was just praying with him and not 15 seconds later a butterfly comes in and lands right on his knee," said Michael.
The family says a U.S. doctor will take care of the reconstructive surgery Brayen needs but they must raise the funds to bring the boy to Myrtle Beach for the surgery. "We need to get him here as quickly as we can, his doctors in Kenya do not want him to go back to his village for fear his leg could get infected again. If he gets one more infection he could lose his leg or his life, explained Bobby.
The shoe drive will help them raise the money needed, and it's how Alex joined in to help. The student went to his teacher and principal for help.
"It was pretty impressive that a young man, an 8th grader had really taken the initiative for one, but that it was so well thought out, and that it was truly passionate," said Connie Huddle, Principal of Ocean Bay Middle School.
Huddle also said it was an opportunity that would help the students become better citizens and great contributors to the world.
All donated shoes will be redistributed through micro enterprise partners, and used in developing nation by impoverished people to start, maintain, and grow businesses to feed, clothe, and house their families.
For a bag of 25 pairs of shoes collected a Florida organization will give $10; the goal for the project is to raise $10,000.
Students at Ocean Bay Middle, school coaches, and local businesses are participating. Coaches for the school are reaching out to more than 30 baseball teams that will participate in the UAAASA Baseball Tournament in North Myrtle Beach this weekend to help bring shoes.
Matt Harder, Baseball Coach for Ocean Bay Middle School said, "Hopefully this will help push other athletes and students to think of ways that they can get involved and the community that we live it a lot of times all it takes is getting the word out for people to want to help."
Bobby Coles said once Brayen makes it to the U.S. the boy will live with his family. "There is something special about this kid because he is winning all of our hearts," said Coles.
If you would like to know more about donating shoes or Brayen click, here.