West Louisville teen gives shoes off his feet to homeless man
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – A simple picture can tell an important story, and thanks to the power of social media, there's an image that has now been viewed more than a million times.
It's a picture of a West Louisville teenager praying with a homeless man after giving him the shoes off his own feet.
One group spent their Labor Day feeding the homeless along West Broadway, and one teen took the ministry even further when he imagined walking a mile in someone else's shoes.
"Just do what God said, love one another," 14-year-old LaRon Tunstill said.
What if we all tried to live that way?
"We're going to take back the city," Jason Reynolds, founder of Purpme, said.
The nonprofit organization Purpme or Purpose, Inc. has several meanings behind its name.
"PURP stands for people uplifting real people and it's also short for purpose," Reynolds said. "Everybody has a purpose."
The group is in the process of helping start a church called True Believers in Christ on 17th Street in Victory Park. It's a tough neighborhood with real problems. That's where Reynolds met Tunstill, who goes by Ron Ron.
"When I first met him, he was wild," Reynolds said.
Tunstill's mother, Camille Carter, will tell you, a few years ago her son was a troublemaker. She wasn't sure how his teen years would unfold, growing up constantly surrounded by crime in West Louisville.
"Every day," Carter said. "We see shooting. Kids robbing people, kids breaking in and vandalizing. It's a lot right where we live."
But that's not the path the Eastern High School freshman wanted to take. That's why Tunstill spends his time helping others. On Monday, it was feeding the homeless and that's when one man stood out to him.
"You could tell like he's been hurt so many times," Tunstill said.
Ron Ron asked if he could say a prayer. Then he noticed the ripped shoes on the man's feet. So without hesitation he took his off brand new Air Jordan 11's.
"At first he was like 'no I can't take these because these are too expensive' and I told him, 'take it, because it's what God wanted me to do,' so I told him to take it from me," Tunstill said.
Reynolds snapped the picture and posted it to Facebook. It took off from there. The photo was viewed and shared more than a million times around the country, even around world.
But before it went viral, the teen came home in socks.
"What did he do?," laughed Carter. "At first I was upset because we just bought these shoes a day ago for him for school and then I just realized that's what God told him to do. I'm very proud."
Making a difference, one step at a time.
"I'm just trying to do right," Tunstill said. "I'm trying to change the world."
"Someone already donated a new pair of shoes to the teen.
For more information on PurpMe or to find out how you can help this mission, click here.
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