Keegan is a senior at Gobles High School. From August, 2011 to August, 2012 he wore no shoes in order to raise money to buy 250 pairs of shoes for kids in Uganda. "Throughout my freshman and sophomore year, I realized two things: that I loved to help people, and that I hated wearing shoes." One day, in a conversation with his youth pastor, he hit upon a way to combine those two feelings: he would go shoeless for a year and ask for monetary donations to purchase shoes for poor children in Africa. "Shoelessness can cause a lot of diseases and health issues," explained Keegan, "yet it is a very easily fixed issue which many people in our country take for granted."
Once he had sworn off shoes, Keegan faced a number of challenges. He had to work with school officials to remain safe at school, his junior year included time in the chemistry lab, for instance, and marching competitions with the band, so Keegan agreed to wear medical booties during school hours. When winter arrived, he remained barefoot in the ice and snow-but if he had to be outside for a long time, he donned several pairs of socks covered by plastic grocery bags. He also couldn't go to many restaurants, stores, movie theaters, and other establishments that insist upon shoes.
Through the challenges Keegan persevered. He made speeches to church and youth groups about his project, starred in a promotional video, and wrote a blog on his "A Year Without Shoes" website. After the 365 days were over, Keegan traveled to Uganda with his youth pastor to buy shoes and give out 200 pairs to kids at orphanages, and 50 pairs to kids at a soccer ministry. "I struggled to keep from crying as I saw the excitement and gratitude these children had about new shoes," said Keegan. "Every day I think about all the things I take for granted that are so scarce or non-existent in places in Uganda."
As a State Honoree, Keegan will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense paid trip in early May to Washington, D.C., where he will join the top two honorees from each of the other states and the District of Columbia for four days of national recognition events. During the trip, ten students will be named America's top youth volunteers of 2013.
Keegan is the son of Ron and Melony Scholte. His older sister Mackenzie is a Gobles graduate enrolled at Anderson University, and his sister Michaela is a sophomore at Gobles High School.