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SHIPROCK, N.M. - Some 300 pairs of Nike shoes are being delivered to needy children on the Navajo Nation courtesy a unique partnership between the Governor Richardson-Peterson Zah Covid-19 Navajo Families Relief , the NB3 Foundation, the Nike N7 Fund and the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. 

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson visited the Navajo Nation on Thursday to help with the delivery of the shoes that will go to six communities. As a longtime supporter and friend of the Navajo people, Gov. Richardson established the fund in April of 2020 to aid in getting essential supplies and equipment to the Navajo Nation to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. 

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“Today, not only did I get to reconnect in-person with my longtime friends on the Nation,” Gov. Richardson said, “but I got the honor of delivering special gifts to the young Nation residents who are the future of their people and who have shown incredible strength and resilience during this challenging year.”

On Thursday, he helped make deliveries of the shoes. He visited  Dream Diné Charter School in Shiprock, N.M. While there, Gov. Richardson congratulated Navajo leaders on their success battling the pandemic. Governor Richardson also met with local Navajo leaders about efforts to fuel economic development in the region at a small business luncheon after visiting the school

All of the Nike shoe styles for this project were personally selected by Lacey Trujillo. Ms. Trujillo is from Fruitland, New Mexico, and is a top designer for Nike. Her shoe designs are worn by professional athletes, including Serena Williams.

The NB3 Foundation provided administrative support and a 50 percent discount on shoes for this project. Founded by Notah Begay III, champion Navajo golfer and analyst with the Golf Channel and NBC Sports, NB3 focuses on the four core areas of physical activity, healthy nutrition, youth development, and cultural connections. NB3 programs serve youth nationwide.

“Thank you to Gov.  Richardson and the many sponsors who contributed in order to provide this wonderful gift to Native youth on the Navajo Nation,” said Notah Begay III. “It is an honor to be a part of this initiative to continue to encourage and uplift Native youth to be healthy and active for their lifetime. At our core we strive to serve and uplift Native youth and communities, so it was without hesitation that we stepped in to help bring something positive, in this case, shoes to Native youth who were most affected by the COVID-19 health crisis.”

This project was made possible through generous donors, including the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

“In Indian Country, when one of us suffers, we all suffer. That's why it's so important for Tribes to support each other,” said Cherokee Nation Speaker of the Council Joe Byrd. “From the Cherokee Nation, we saw a need among the youth of one of our allies, the Navajo Nation and we wanted to help. From one sovereign Native nation to another, we offered our support so we can give Native youth better opportunities in life. We are proud to be allies of Navajo children and families. Wa Do.”

“On behalf of the 24th Navajo Nation Council, I want to extend our upmost gratitude towards Governor Bill Richardson for his generous gift of Nike shoes to our Navajo children,” said Speaker Seth Damon (Bááhaalí, Chichiltah, Manuelito, Red Rock, Rock Springs, Tséyatoh). “Through your partnership with the Notah Begay III (NB3) Foundation and the Nike N7 Foundation, our children are motivated to ‘lead healthier, happier, and more successful lives.’”

Good Sports, a national nonprofit organization, also contributed to this project with a two-year grant and will supply six donations of sports equipment to Navajo schools, including Dream Diné Charter School in Shiprock.

“As an organization, our top priority is to help communities as they recover from the pandemic. The joy of sports and play is needed now more than ever,” said Karleen Herbst, Good Sports Senior Director of Business Development. “We are excited to work with the Navajo Nation to support the return to youth sports and physical fitness opportunities for kids, who it the most.”

Other supporters of the shoe giveaway, included Amerind, Inc. and A. Hale PR. Inc. 

“Our Diné people endured changes and challenges during the pandemic, but we also must remember that our Diné youth felt the same effects,” April Hale said. “They deserve the happiness that comes with new shoes. They are worth the efforts and partnerships that came together to bring smiles to their faces. AHALE PR, as a Diné woman owned small business, is proud to be a part of this amazing gift to our youth.”

More shoes will given away this coming fall.

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