KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A dying man's wish to help the children in his community is being fulfilled by his friends, family, and neighbors.
Alan Taylor, a well-loved staple in Roane County, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in September. He passed away on March 27, a few hours after we interviewed his family about what they're calling, 'Shoes for Souls.'
The newly-formed non-profit aims to give new tennis shoes to students at Kingston Elementary School when they start the school year in the fall, something Taylor had always provided his own children when they were in school.
"It's something that is important to us that we let this legacy live on for him. This is what he wants, so we feel it's our job to make sure this happens for him and make sure it happens for these kids in this community," his daughter, Abbey Taylor, said.
"One of the things that Alan always asked for was, 'I just wish I could get my strength back," said Taylor's friend and pastor, Phillip Martin, who met with Taylor weekly throughout his illness. "I told him one Monday morning that the first day of school, you'll get your strength back because you'll get to flex your muscles in the community by putting shoes and backpacks on all those little elementary school kids.
"I grew up in this town and I want to give back not only now but to leave a legacy for the future. My hope is that Shoes for Souls will give children in rural communities of East Tennessee a great start for their school year. I do not want these children to worry about being different when they begin their school year. I would appreciate your support in helping to make this a success for the students," Taylor wrote before his death.