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Vanderbilt Student Athletes Return From Historic Trip To Cuba

Posted at 5:30 PM, Jul 26, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-09 17:18:50-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Soles4Souls has distributed shoes all over the country and the entire world. Their most recent trip to Cuba made history thanks to the help of Vanderbilt University.

The group of ten student athletes arrived at Nashville's International Airport Sunday morning a little sleep deprived but full of memories.

“I feel like my whole life has been about sports and I haven't had time to do something service related,” lacrosse player Alexa Kunowski said.

For Kunowski, going to Cuba allowed her to return to a country her family left more than fifty years ago.

“It was kind of almost surreal walking around being like oh my grandma walked here before and my aunts and uncles,” she said.

Her visit has literally been etched in history. On Monday, the United States restored diplomatic relations with Cuba.

“It was cool just being there. We saw a bunch of people trying to get visas and stuff like that,” Kunowski said.

Vanderbilt University partnered with non-profit Soles4Souls to distribute 700 pairs of shoes to children.

“It was just amazing, just seeing the looks on their faces,” student athlete Simone Charley said. “We would line them up and size their feet and then give them a pair of shoes. And then play with them. We'd help them draw on their shoes and decorate them.”

Soles4Souls has taken groups all over the world but planning this trip was much different.

“Rules and regulations that we don't necessarily consider apply to their everyday interactions,” Soles4Souls travel manager Kelly Hoskins explained.

It was a new experience for everyone in the group and many said they hope to have another chance to go back.

“It was just an awesome opportunity not only just to learn about the history and be there for such a historical moment,” Charley explained, “but also to be able to help others and people in need who only wish they had the things we just can throw away.”

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