KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Urban Ranger Corps has worked with more than 700 at-risk youth since 2005, preparing them for life after high school. They’re also one of the beneficiaries of KSHB 41's Gift of Sole initiative.
"This organization is all about helping young men become better men," organization president Erik Dickinson said.
He's a father, and a father figure.
"It's like a proud dad moment to watch our young men aspire to do great things," he said.
He gets to watch his Urban Rangers, like Dashaun Davis-Gatlin, grow in real time.
"My relationship to this place is very strong because I've learned how to turn into a grown man and be very mature. Coming here the past few years, just the best place that I'd rather be than out in the streets," Davis-Gatlin said.
Daquon Cheadle is another Urban Ranger. He's also a member of the National Honor Society.
"I give this program all the credit because, honestly, I don't think I wouldn't have done any of this stuff if it weren't for them." he said.
Rangers grow together, work together, and they love the shoe game together too.
"Growing up, I really didn’t have a lot of nice shoes," Davis-Gatlin said.
He added that a nice pair of sneakers matters.
"It shows that you’re grown up and you’re trying to take care of yourself," he said.
Cheadle feels the same way.
"To me, it shows that, you're growing up like you care about your look, you care about your appearance," he said.
It’s a tie that binds the generations.
"We don't have a lot to relate to, you think about social media and the things... but shoes and sneakers, is something that we can," Dickinson said.
The Urban Ranger Corps provides an important launch pad for their young members. Connecting through shoes, and through love of community, their mission continues for the common good.
"It's making the city a better place for everyone, you know, young men that are taking pride in their neighborhoods," Dickinson said.
They lift each other up, and you can too, with the gift of sole, on their feet.