They weren’t making a fashion statement. It also wasn’t an attempt on the day following Tax Day to show that the tax man had taken everything, including their shoes.
Eighteen senators paraded around the state capitol on Tuesday, April 16, either barefoot or down to their socks, as a show of support for One Day Without Shoes. That included walking around on the Senate floor during the morning session and going shoeless during committee hearings in the afternoon. The Senate Finance Committee, a group of five, had a majority of its members in their bare feet during a Tuesday committee meeting. The “shoe of support” for One Day Without Shoes was a pretty dramatic departure in protocol for the state Senate, the more formal body of the two chambers at the capitol.
One Day Without Shoes is a global effort to combat children’s poverty, and is backed by Tom’s Shoes of Los Angeles. The company, founded in 2006, donates one pair of shoes to children in need around the world for every pair sold. The movement now includes NGOs, charities and non-profits around the world. One Day Without Shoes, now in its fifth year, in intended to “raise awareness of children growing up barefoot and the impact a pair of shoes can have on a child’s life.”
Several senators who participated in One Day Without Shoes faced a stronger test than they might have expected, vowing to go the entire day barefoot regardless of the weather. For some, that meant going outside when the capitol’s fire alarms went off during the noon hour, and the entire building was evacuated for 25 minutes on a day after the city got six inches of snow and the temperature was in the 30s. Sens. Jesse Ulibarri, D-Commerce City, and Michael Johnston, D-Denver both pledged their bare feet for the entire day to the effort, despite the weather that caused a scheduled noon outdoor press conference to fizzle.
The One Day Without Shoes event at the capitol was a bipartisan effort, with barefoot Republican and Democrat tootsies on Tuesday. Sen. Owen Hill, R-Colorado Springs, tweeted out a photo of the eighteen barefoot or sock-clad senators who gathered their toes into a circle on the Senate floor Tuesday.