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No Shoes? No Problem: NKU alum’s kind gesture goes viral

“I just wanted to do something good for someone. Now I’m in the newspaper and I have television stations calling me from across the country..."

By Ryan Clark
Marketing + Communications

Kay Brown couldn’t believe it. The woman, not much more than five feet tall and frail, was walking from subway car to subway car in bare feet.

Bare feet.

“I couldn’t imagine it,” said Brown, who was sitting and watching the woman as she traveled home Monday from her job as an assistant at a hedge fund in Times Square. “Can you imagine? Standing in bare feet on a subway floor?”

So Brown asked the woman if she needed some shoes.

“I asked her what size she wore, and it turns out, we were the same size,” Brown said.

So she took off her brown boots and gave them to the woman, who immediately started crying. “She asked me if I was sure, and I said, ‘Yes.’ I had to help her.”

Everyone around her stayed quiet for a moment. Brown noticed that this, of all days, was a day where she wore mismatching socks – one pink, one white with hearts. Oh well.

Then, a man opened a bag and gave her an extra pair of thick socks to wear. She was grateful – she still had to walk home six more blocks after getting off the subway. Other riders started to comment on her good deed. Some folks started taking pictures.

And then, Brown went viral.

“I can’t believe what has happened because of all of this,” Brown told Inside NKU Friday morning. “I just wanted to do something good for someone. Now I’m in the newspaper and I have television stations calling me from across the country. I’m doing interviews. It’s so crazy.”

A 26-year-old Cincinnati native, Brown graduated from NKU in 2011 with a degree in theatre. Her father, David Brown, said he was not surprised his daughter did what she did. "We raised both our daughters to be respectful of all individuals regardless of what they have or don't have," he said. "Kay has always been a kind and compassionate, loving person. We are very proud of her. We're not surprised at all that she would preform an act of kindness."

She moved to New York to act, and while Kay still has an agent and goes on auditions, there’s something she discovered while living there.

She has a message, and she wants people to know that doing good is something you can do all the time. In the middle of a hectic day, she stepped out to pick up lunch (part of her assistant duties at the hedge fund) and talk to us about her instant fame – and why she’s using it to promote something other than herself.

INSIDE: How busy have you been today?

KB: I can’t believe all this is happening. I’ve been taking phone calls so much. I’m on the front page of the newspaper. I’ve gotten 400 new Facebook friends in like a few hours. I hope I don’t get fired (she laughs).

INSIDE: Is it just your nature to think of others rather than yourself?

KB: I volunteer a lot, with organizations in the city. And through social media, there are causes that I represent and try to help, which I really love to do. It’s something I’ve realized I really want to do with my life.

Kay Brown goes viral ...

Here are some of the many places where you can see more coverage of Kay Brown:

New York Daily News

Daily Mail

ABC News