As competitive as UCI can be, it’s still not too often you run into a student who needs her own publicist. First-year undecided/undeclared major Kristina Radnoti has been on the ‘John Walsh Show’ and the ‘Sharon Osbourne Show,’ all because she is the young founder of her own non-profit organization that has expanded nationwide. How did this all happen?
Two years ago, after the tragic events of Sept. 11, a melancholy Radnoti modestly sauntered into the family room of her Thousand Oaks home. Turning on the television set, she seated herself comfortably on the couch and flipped through channels until a CNN report caught her eye. While watching a bit on Afghan soldiers, Radnoti observed that a majority of them weren’t wearing any shoes.
Motivated by the images that glowed on her television set, the idea for Radnoti’s charity organization Sole Purpose was born.
Recovering from a pole-vaulting injury that tore her anterior cruciated ligament, she decided to devote her time to starting her own community service project. Initially setting out to provide shoes for soldiers in the Middle East, she quickly learned that getting shoes halfway across the world would be no easy task. So, she turned her efforts closer to home and discovered a need in her local area. After doing research, Radnoti found that there were more than 350,000 homeless individuals in the state of California alone.
In February 2002 she launched Sole Purpose with a revised mission: providing shoes for the homeless people within Ventura County.
‘It was a slow process at first, because I didn’t know how to start it, and it was trial and error,’ Radnoti said.
Beginning as a couple of drop off bins located at local businesses and schools, Sole Purpose was run by the original ‘shoe crew’ led by Radnoti’s family, friends and church group. Her mother, Jan, played an integral role in running the organization, handling all the management and business that took place.
‘She’s good at management and networking and she’s taught me a lot,’ Radnoti said.
Through the publicity of local papers and a couple of nationwide media organizations, Sole Purpose went from local to national and has now expanded to include 25 cities and shoe crews across the United States and Canada.
‘It got big when Runner’s World Magazine had an article that was distributed across the nation, so more people heard of it and wanted to help,’ Radnoti said.
In January and March of 2003, Radnoti had the opportunity to guest on prominent talk shows.
‘It was cool, it was a really good experience,’ Radnoti said. ‘I did it to raise awareness and let people know that there is a need for shoes. A homeless person goes through a pair of shoes every six to eight weeks.’
But for Radnoti, the greatest satisfaction she receives is the sense of appreciation she obtains from the people she helps. In retrospect, her most touching moment was a particular instance at the RAIN shelter of Ventura, when she met a little girl named Brooklyn.
‘It was nice to see the enthusiasm in her face. She was so happy. Even though it’s a small contribution, it means a lot to me that it helps somebody and their life,’ Radnoti said.
Now in her first year of college, Radnotti has her sights set on expanding Sole Purpose within the university campus. She hopes that fraternities and sororities will notice her cause and choose to pick up her charity.
‘It’s a great project to get involved in and it’s not that hard to do,’ Radnoti said.
If you are interested in being a part of her endeavor, you may visit the Soul Purpose Web site at www.solepurpose.com or contact Kristina Radnoti at
Filed Under: Features