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Laces of Love returns to FGCU

Chris Sale (left), Rylan Sale (middle) and Jeanne Nealon (right) stress the importance of donating shoes. The three announce the charity’s shoe drive, Laces of Love is underway in the front of Alico Arena. (EN Photo / Zack Rothman)

Whether it was the loop-de-loop, bunny ears or circle method, learning how to tie your shoes was a part of childhood.
Though often overlooked, shoes are, arguably, the most essential piece of material we wear. Unfortunately, not every child is lucky enough to be able to own a pair of shoes.
Joined by alumnus Chris Sale and the rest of the Sale family, Laces of Love held its third annual shoe drive at Alico Arena during the men’s and women’s basketball doubleheader on Saturday, Jan. 30 to collect shoes for kids in Lee and Collier County.
Since 2015, Chris and Brianne Sale have teamed up with the organization to host an annual shoe drive at Alico Arena.
A nonprofit organization that began in 2005, Laces of Love has given over 100,000 pairs of shoes to kids in Lee and Collier County.
“We’ve been doing this for three years at FGCU,” Sale said. “This year, we beat last year, and we’re still growing. It’s great to see the community coming together for us and just helping people within the community.”
With fans donating multiple pairs of shoes at a time en route to the organization surpassing last year’s shoe total, Laces of Love co-founder Jeanne Nealon and her team, which included family members like her sister, Mary Myrmo, collected a surfeit amount of shoes.
“This is a wonderful turnout — a lot of fans of Chris Sale,” Myrmo said. “He went to school here. He wanted to latch onto a local charity, and this is the one him and his wife picked. I think it’s excellent we got a lot of shoes tonight.”

Laces of Love
Chris Sale (left) and son Rylan Sale (right) sitting in the clubhouse of Alico Arena during the Men’s Basketball game to promote Laces of Love. (EN Photo / Brad Young)

Returning to get her degree from FGCU after leaving in 2010, Brianne Sale was required to partner with a nonprofit organization for a class project and started off helping Laces of Love with its website. Soon enough, her project developed into something much more.
“It started with my wife,” Chris said. “We both left school in 2010, and a couple of years ago, she came back to get her degree. And, in one of her classes, she had to get involved with a nonprofit. It started as a class project, and it turned into a passion for us.”
Based in Collier County, Laces of Love stresses the importance of giving a kid a pair of shoes because not only does it put shoes on their feet, it also gives them a huge confidence boost.
“It’s something that’s still very important and still maybe overlooked,” Chris said. “Kids get a confidence boost when they get a new pair shoes. Bringing a smile to a kid’s face is important, and the more that we can do that, it’s important to do.”
If you would like to volunteer or donate to Laces of Love, visit its website,, to see how you can make an impact and help out the community.

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