UNC runner's steps benefit Jamaican charity
Posted May 20, 2013
Children in Jamaica are the unexpected beneficiaries with every stride of University of North Carolina runner O'Neal Wanliss.
Wanliss, a UNC sophomore and All-American, is ranked among the nation's best in the 800 meters.
His charitable bent began when he was in high school. Wanliss, who had friends and family in Jamaica, had the idea to donate his used track and soccer gear to kids on the island who had none.
He explained, "When I was playing soccer, I would get a new pair of cleats and the old ones would just sit there. So I thought, why not just package them up and send them? Then when I started running track, I was going through track spikes even quicker than soccer cleats."
Wanliss was able to build a full-fledged charitable organization, called S.P.I.K.E.S. 4 TYKES. The story gained traction when Yahoo! picked it up online, and the gear started pouring in.
"I'm expecting 20, you know, 30 pairs, and that would be great," Wanliss said. "Then I started getting them from all across the nation, from Canada, from Mexico."
Wanliss tried to keep track of how his donations are used. "There was a meet in Jamaica, and the guy who won the 800 was a kid I donated spikes to. So it's great," he said.
Wanliss is making his impact in Jamaica and on North Carolina's track team, where he will compete this week in the East Preliminary round of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships this weekend in Greensboro.