BYU student’s start-up shoe company boosts self-esteem

BYU student’s start-up shoe company boosts self-esteem

OGDEN, Utah – A Brigham Young University start-up company may have started off as a high school joke, but it has transformed into a social project. Velks shoes are boosting one 12-year-old’s self-esteem.

Sixth-grader Sam Widdison jokes he can run faster than the bullies with Velks on.

“You can’t kick me, hooo-ah made it!” he said. “I can do lots of stuff that I couldn’t do with my other shoes.”

Sam loves his shoes, but these are no ordinary kicks – despite being made with velcro, they’re designed to be stylish.

“I can’t tie regular shoes because of my right hand. I got paralyzed, so I can’t use it that much. It doesn’t work that well,” Sam said. He had a stroke when he was born that left his right side paralyzed.

His mom, Kari Widdison, worries about him.

“You have a kid that is already struggling, and as his mom, I really want him to fit in,” she said.

Sam has limited options when it comes to good-looking shoes. At Wal-Mart, the only Velcro shoes were Dr. Scholl’s and Wal-Mart orthopedic shoes.

But then Sam’s mom found Velks, a local company that seeks to put style back into Velcro. BYU student Shae Russell launched Velks back in June.

“We’re trying to eliminate stigmas. Fashion can be created within any individual,” Russell said.

The shoes come in a variety of fashionable designs. Sam has a name for each pair he owns: his school Velks, his Bronco Velks, and his church Velks.

Sam’s mom said not only do the shoes look good, but her son can put them on by himself.

“That’s a big deal, that he can do it by himself like all the other kids can, and that takes a little stress off of me,” she said.

Sam’s next challenge: holding on to his Velks. One of his friends thought Sam’s Velks were really cool.

“Nick said that he wanted to steal my shoes,” Sam said.

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