Toms shoes founder Blake Mycoskie broke down in tears on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon yesterday, while revealing a record $5million pledge to help end gun violence.
The moment came as he talked about the recent spate of horrific incidents in America that doesn’t seem to let up, with a shooter days ago killing four in Chicago after the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and the California bar shooting in Thousand Oaks.
Blake said: “Twelve days ago, the shootings happened in Thousand Oaks, and my wife called me and she was scared, and she said, ‘I’m not taking our son to school today. This happened two weeks ago in a synagogue, in a yoga studio. And someone has to do something about it.’
“And I got off the phone with her and I was emotional. And I sat there and I thought and I said, ‘You know what? Damn it, we’re going to do something about it.'”
“So tonight we’re announcing that we’re going to evolve our giving model. So Toms not only will continue to give shoes, but we will give considerable resources to the causes and the most important issues of our time.”
Overcome with emotion, he added: “We’re going to start by giving $5 million to the most amazing organizations who are working hard on the ground every day to end gun violence. And this will be the single largest corporate gift to end gun violence in the history of the United States.”
Mycoskie founded Toms after observing children without shoes on a trip to South America, growing it from an idea in his apartment to a multimillion dollar company that gives a pair of shoes away to those in need with each sale.
His new initiative was revealed last night after a funny anecdote about the name of his company and how people assume he IS Tom.
Blake said: “When I decided to start it, I said if we sell a pair of shoes today, we’re going to give away a pair of shoes tomorrow. And then they were called Tomorrow Shoes, but then I couldn’t fit “Tomorrows” on this damn tag. So it became Toms. People call me Tom all the time.”
He also explained how his company grew out of helping others. He said: “Twelve years ago, I was in Argentina traveling. I saw many children without shoes. I wanted to do something to help them. And I said, ‘What if we start a shoe company where every time we sold a pair of shoes we would give a pair away?’ One for one. Really simple idea. I was in my apartment at the time. And now we’ve given 86 million children a pair of shoes.”
Watch him talk about the new pledge to end gun violence in the video below, and find out more on the Toms website.
The Tonight Show Starting Jimmy Fallon airs weeknights at 11.35/10.35c on NBC.