Forrest General Hospital Employee Collects Sneakers for Needy Teens during Hub City Sneaker Ball
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (June 17, 2021) By day, Daniel “DC” Cook is an Employee Relations representative at Forrest General Hospital. At other times, he’s a major in the U.S. Army Reserves at Camp Shelby. He’s also a husband to Alethea and father to three daughters, Leah, Londyn and Layla. But always, he’s looking out for the welfare of others.
Cook recently celebrated his 40th birthday with an event; it wasn’t about him, but about others. He celebrated his big day by hosting the Hub City Sneaker Ball in the grand ballroom of the Thad Cochran Center on the University of Southern Mississippi campus.
“I’ve known for several years that I wanted to celebrate my 40th birthday in formal fashion and celebrating with a slight twist to black tie was an added bonus,” said Cook, of the concept he’d heard about before in places like Chicago, Atlanta and New York. “So, I decided to bring the idea to Hattiesburg, and the Hub City Sneaker Ball was born!”
The event was an opportunity for guests to give back to the community by donating pairs of new or gently-worn tennis shoes to children from youth to 18 years of age. “This was an opportunity for people to give rather than receive,” Cook said. “It also involves professionals across South Mississippi in an experience that allows everyone the opportunity to have an impact on our community.”
All attendees were encouraged to bring a pair of new or gently-worn shoes to be donated to local organizations serving school-aged youth up to 18 years of age in need.
Cook’s goal was 100 pairs of shoes. Not only did he meet his goal, but he exceeded it. To date, 460 pairs of shoes have been collected since March 28. The shoes will be distributed through the Lamar County and Hattiesburg Public School Districts. “I’ve connected with the schools’ K-12 social worker and counselors to devise a distribution plan this summer around back to school,” he said.
“I know when I was a child, I looked forward to shoes for the first day of school,” Cook told a local television station that was on hand to film the night’s event. “To give back those shoes to a kid really brightens somebody’s day.”
This was the first year for the event, which included red carpet arrivals, a cocktail hour, dinner, guest speaker, Dr. Terri Smith, a silent auction, raffle giveaways, a photo booth and dancing. Cook deems the event an overwhelming success and plans on this annual event each May where a new community group will be targeted.
Wayne Chance, director of Forrest Health Employee Relations-Human Resources, is proud to have Cook on his team. “DC’s heart for giving back to the community is impressive,” said Chance. “He is a genuinely good person with a giving heart, and we’re proud of the work he does outside of the office to help others.”
Cook was also able to donate $1,000 to Kuntry Kidz, a local nonprofit organization providing youth with positive exposure, tools and encouragement to maximize their academic achievement and personal development.
“To me, I’ve always believed that any of my successes in life, both personally and professionally, have come from the things I’ve done for others, so it was a no-brainer to do so,” he said. “Blessing others blesses me. There’s a sneaker culture that many of my friends, family and associates enjoy, so why not donate a pair of shoes to those who may be less fortunate or have fallen on hard times during a time that’s been challenging for many of us.”
People can still donate to the cause by visiting Give Back | Hub City Sneaker Ball (hcsneakerball.com) to give digitally or to contact Cook for shoe donations.