Bill Richardson-Peterson Zah relief fund delivers 300 pairs of Nike shoes to Navajo Nation

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

SHIPROCK — Alyza Yellowhorse's face lit up when she saw her new pair of Nike shoes. She held open the orange box and showed the footwear to her father.

"Yesterday she talked about it, that she's getting new shoes. She's excited and happy to get them," said Daron Shorty, Yellowhorse's father. "She said she couldn't wait for it."

Former Gov. Bill Richardson delivered 300 pairs of Nike shoes on July 8 to Dream Diné Charter School in Shiprock. The footwear will be given to students at the school and distributed to children in six communities on the Navajo Nation.

Pandora Watchman, the school's head administrator, said there are many students who come from low income households and parents cannot afford to buy shoes, so the donation helps them.

Alyza Yellowhorse shows the pair of Nike shoes she received on July 8 at Dream Diné Charter School in Shiprock.

"They need a good pair of shoes to wear, to play outside and work outside," Watchman said.

The Governor Richardson-Peterson Zah COVID-19 Navajo Families Relief Fund partnered with the Notah Begay III Foundation, the Nike N7 Fund and the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma to purchase the shoes.

"In this part of the state there are no shoe stores, so Navajo families have to go to border towns to shop," Richardson said adding the drive can take up to three hours for families.

Dream Diné Charter School students hold boxes containing pairs of Nike shoes on July 8 in Shiprock.

"We know a lot of students need quality shoes," the former governor said.

Richardson established the relief fund in April 2020 to aid in getting essential supplies and equipment to the New Mexico portion of the Navajo Nation to address the coronavirus pandemic.

The NB3 Foundation, founded by professional golfer Notah Begay III, provided administrative support and a 50% discount on shoes for the project, according to information from the Richardson-Zah relief fund.

Dream Diné Charter School Head Administrator Pandora Watchman, left, talks with former Gov. Bill Richardson on July 8 during a tour of the school in Shiprock.

Because of the discount, the group was able to purchase more shoes which will be provided to children in a second distribution, Richardson said.

In addition to the shoes, Dream Diné received a $10,000 grant from Good Sports, a national nonprofit that creates access to sports and fitness opportunities for kids in need.

Watchman said the school is developing physical activity programs and the grant will boost that project.

Shiprock resident Duane "Chili" Yazzie explained that Richardson is no stranger to the Navajo people.

Yazzie explained that while in office, Richardson participated in parades during the Northern Navajo Nation Fair and helped the tribe with several initiatives and resources.

Nike shoes were delivered by former Gov. Bill Richardson and distributed to Dream Diné Charter School students on July 8 in Shiprock. Additional pairs will be provided to children in six communities on the Navajo Nation.

"We adopted this man a long time ago, so we're welcoming him home. … By the way, Bill, my shoe size is eight," Yazzie said with a chuckle.

The joke was not lost on Richardson, who after thanking the NB3 Foundation and the Nike N7 Fund for the shoe purchase, said there might be a size eight available for Yazzie.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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