The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis’ Power of Children’s Award recognizes kids and teenagers from all over the state who are doing extraordinary things to help out fellow Hoosiers. Only fifty kids in the entire state were chosen for this award last year, and one of those happened to be an incredible young man from Hanover Central working to ensure that if kids in his area want to play sports, then equipment will always be available to them.
His name is Eric Lakomek and his mission is called The Red Shoe Project, named after his grandmother who would always buy him red shoes for Christmas. And what the Red Shoe Project does on the surface is collect used sports equipment to be distributed for free to kids in his area that cannot afford it.
Beneath the surface, Lakomek is dealing out hope. Lakomek is the perfect example of the positive power of sports; how sports teach you to be a part of something bigger than yourself; part of a team. In Lakomek's mind, everyone in his community is on his team and he's doing what good teammates do with The Red Shoe Project: help each other out when they need it the most.
We caught up with him during an interview for the Children’s Museum, in which Lakomek was being filmed for an exhibit that will be up for a year at the museum, to talk to him about the porject.
Eric has always been big into watching and playing sports, a star in his own right at Hanover Central, and this connection to teams and leagues around the area was what spawned the idea of the Red Shoe Project.
“I play a lot of sports and had noticed that kids in the area sometimes did not have the equipment to play,” Lakomek said about the project. “I wanted to help them out and do something for them, so one day I just decided to start a collection for them.”
And while the project was originally designed to be just baseball equipment, when the community stepped up and started donating equipment from a multitude of sports, Lakomek adapted.
“The plan of The Red Shoe Project was originally just to collect baseball equipment but when we started getting more we went with it,” added Lakomek. “We get baseball gloves, football helmets, even skis. But of course, since it is called The Red Shoe Project our largest donation when we collect every December is shoes.”
And now, with the help of the Power of Children’s Award, which grants $2,000 to the recipient to grow their good ideas, Lakomek plans to take his positive mission to the next level, even long after he has left Hanover Central.
“With the money I want to start buying new equipment as well for these kids,” said Lakomek. “And keep building on this idea so I can get more kids involved and have them help out here (Cedar Lake Area) when I graduate and go off to college. Of course, I will be back to help out on breaks and during the summer but I want this to keep going strong.”