Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Eye Health Center

Font Size

Blake Mycoskie Starts Something That Matters

The founder of Toms Shoes steps into a new eyeglasses donation campaign. Plus: How his new book teaches others how to make a difference.
By
WebMD Magazine - Feature
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

Blake Mycoskie first glimpsed global poverty while a contestant on CBS's The Amazing Race, zooming around the world in 2002 with his sister, Paige, (they finished third on the reality game show). But it wasn't until a vacation to Argentina in 2006 that the Texan was hit with the need to do something about it.

A brief volunteer venture, traveling from village to village to dole out donated shoes to barefoot children, lit a fire in Mycoskie's heart. As he explains in his new book, Start Something That Matters, published in September 2011, he didn't want to just ask friends and family for donations to buy shoes for a few kids until the well of goodwill ran dry. Mycoskie, 35, wanted to create a model that would keep getting shoes to kids in need, as long as they needed them.

Recommended Related to Eye Health

Signs of Vision Problems in Young Kids

Everyone has a vision of what children's eye problems look like: Squinting, sitting too close to the television, rubbing their eyes. Though those can be symptoms of vision issues, sometimes there are no signs your child isn't seeing well. Here's what to watch out for and what to do about it.

Read the Signs of Vision Problems in Young Kids article > >

Toms Shoes: One for One

That's the idea behind Toms (www.toms.com) and its simple "One for One" model. When you buy a pair of Toms lightweight, casual shoes, the company gives a pair of shoes to a child. In October 2010, Toms donated its millionth pair of shoes -- and now, the company has moved on to giving away vision care as well, launching an eyewear line this past June. Within two weeks, the first run of glasses had sold out of stores. (Stock has since been replenished.)

The latest venture started on one of Mycoskie's many "shoe drops" -- he logs more than 240 days on the road each year -- when he realized that many of the children who could finally walk to school in their Toms-supplied shoes couldn't see the chalkboard.

The Toms Shoes Eyeglass Campaign

"I saw people begging on the street and the social workers told me they were once employed, but then they developed a cataract and couldn't work so had to start begging," he says. "I saw the real effects of vision impairment in the Third World.

"When you buy a pair of glasses, you help one person get sight: medical treatment, prescription glasses, cataract surgery, whatever they need," he says.

Mycoskie was soon traveling again, delivering glasses and watching surgeries in pilot countries Nepal, Cambodia, and Tibet. "I tell people: Just find a way to serve in your local community and you'll experience the joy. Once you get that bug, if it moves you, you'll know it and you'll start creating more opportunities in your life to do it."

Reviewed on June 15, 2011

Today on WebMD

businesswoman wearing fun eyeglasses
Slideshow
Pink Eye Slideshow
Slideshow
 
Woman with itchy watery eyes
Slideshow
grilled salmon and spinach
Video
 

Understanding Stye
Article
human eye
Article
 
eye
Video
eye exam timing
Video
 

vision test
Tool
is vision correction surgery for you
Article
 
high tech contacts
Article
eye drop
Article
 

Special Sections