CHARACTER COUNTS

Rancho Solano’s Pia Sachdev uses time to paint shoes for young patients

Oct 18, 2022, 5:15 AM
Photo of Pia Sachdev (Courtesy Pia Sachdev) (Courtesy Pia Sachdev) (Courtesy Pia Sachdev) (Courtesy Pia Sachdev) (Courtesy Pia Sachdev)

Whether it’s leading the team on the soccer field or in the gymnasium on the basketball courts, Pia Sachdev always strives to keep the spirits of others up.

Sachdev is a junior at Rancho Solano Preparatory School in Scottsdale. She maintains 4.0 GPA and plays multiple sports.

However, over the past two years, she has grown a passion for painting and customizing shoes. It’s become a massive part of her schedule.

During the quarantine period in 2020 due to COVID-19, Sachdev, like many others, was unable to spend time with friends — or play soccer and basketball like she typically would.

The amount of new free time led her to discover the hobby of painting sneakers. She started out by painting shoes for family members and friends as well as selling her work on Etsy.

As time went on, painting the shoes would become something more than just artwork. They would become gifts for those who needed them the most.

One of her teammates from her soccer club, SC Del Sol, was suffering through an illness. Sachdev decided to paint a pair of shoes and gift them.

That idea of using the shoes to brighten the day of another turned into the creation of Sneakers for Smiles, a program that aims to deliver a pair of painted and customized shoes.

Sachdev’s program grew after her brother, Nevaan, was admitted to Phoenix Children’s.

“My brother had to go to PCH for a health issue for a little bit,” Sachdev said. “To see how scary that was not only for him but for all of us, I only imagined how it was for people that are in there even longer than he was.”

Through the experience at Phoenix Children’s, Sachdev began looking for a way to use her hobby as a way to give back. She has worked closely with the child life department at Phoenix Children’s, which dedicates its time and resources to delivering different games and gifts to patients.

Due to guidelines and protocols, Sachdev does not have the chance to directly communicate or interact with patients. It has not stopped her from creating an organized system that ensures the patients get a pair of shoes that represents them.

Sachdev sends a form to patients and their families that asks about their favorite types of shoe, favorite colors, interests and more.

“If I do all of them in one day, I can usually get them done in four to eight hours. I know it sounds like a long time but I just sit down, put some Netflix on and just get it done,” Sachdev said. “If I have time throughout the week, I spend 1-2 hours a day and get all of them done within the week.”

The most challenging part comes with managing all of her other priorities, whether it’s homework or practice. It usually means late nights for Sachdev, but it is worth it.

“This is something I really enjoy,” Sachdev said. “I’m willing to put in a few extra hours here and there if it means getting it done in time for a patient.”

Once she has finished painting the shoes, her mother and brother deliver all of her work to Phoenix Children’s, and the child life department delivers the shoes to the patients.

Sachdev has not had the chance to see the patients’s reactions in person but has received messages from the child life department as well as direct messages on her Instagram page with positive feedback.

Sachdev wants to continue playing soccer at the collegiate level and has hopes to be an orthopedic surgeon. She wants to remain involved in the sports medicine field.

She hopes to continue painting shoes and wants to keep providing a shining light for those who need it.

“You never really know what someone is going through,” Sachdev said. “The smallest thing you can do to brighten someone’s day can really make a difference.”

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