O’Neal Wanliss, a Georgia track star and 2011 graduate of Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School, has delivered on a promise he made in his own SPIKES 4 Tykes program by donating track shoes to Jamaica. Wanliss created the SPIKES 4 Tykes through Holy Innocents’ Program for Global Citizenship.
On Aug. 4, Wanliss flew to Jamaica, his father’s native country, to deliver shoes to schools, including Montego Bay Preparatory, Cornwall College, and the Craighead All-Age School.
Wanliss—who shattered the Georgia state record in the 800m and also won the 400m dash for the 3rd time in a row in state competition last spring— said that Cornwall College received most of the spikes [33 pairs] that he plans to deliver to Jamaican primary and secondary schools this year. And that school received shoes after a teacher noticed a story about SPIKES 4 Tykes on the Internet.
Zandrea Banton, a language and literature teacher at Cornwall College, was so impressed after reading an article about Wanliss that she contacted him via Facebook and simply asked for a donation.
"He spoke rather glowingly about his charity organization in which he donates spikes to Jamaican young athletes, and I decided to reach out to him," Banton explained. "He took me up on the offer and we are very, very thankful. It is more than what we expected and we will be maintaining the contact with Mr. Wanliss. It's remarkable and we are very glad.”
At Montego Bay, sports director Gregory Daley noted that the spikes would help take that school’s track program a little farther. "It will most definitely take us a far way because over the years we have had difficulties in providing spikes for the number of boys that we have,” Daley said gratefully. “I think it will suffice for the team that we will produce this year.”
As much as the schools got out of this month’s donations, however, Wanliss may have received more.
“This was a phenomenal experience for me, and the great beginning for SPIKES 4 Tykes,” Wanliss said. In all I delivered a total of 67 pairs spikes. Once school starts, I will receive the contact information of the children attending the various schools.
“The best part about it for me was how grateful the students were, how much they appreciated just getting a pair of spikes. The whole world it up for them.”
Wanliss left for the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill last week, where he will attend on a track scholarship.