Dear Parents and Guardians,
We have asked your loved ones to join us in a challenge that we find very exciting. You might reasonably ask though, who are we at the Barefoot Pedals Foundation and why have we decided to do this?
In short, we are doing this to honor the memory of a friend.
Throughout his life, our friend, Jeffrey David Nola, had three great passions: music, meditation and ministry.
Jeff showed an interest and affinity for music from an early age, and began playing the drums in grade school. He played in the jazz, symphonic, and marching bands at Catholic High School, was captain of the drumline, and won the band’s highest award, The Golden Bear, during his senior year. Jeff demonstrated a fervent desire to help others less fortunate than himself while at CHS, and to set a spiritual and moral example to all people he encountered. He was an enthusiastic member of the Catholic Church, participated in several student organizations including Student Ministry and Amnesty International, and was named a CHS ‘Man of the Year’ when he graduated in 1994.
Jeff attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, and received a degree in English Literature in 1998. He continued his spiritual development by minoring in Religious Studies, and his musical development as a 4-year member of LSU marching band. He returned to Catholic High as a Religion and English teacher after graduating from LSU.
Jeff continued to enthusiastically pursue his spiritual growth during his 12 years teaching at CHS. He earned a Master’s degree in Pastoral Studies from Loyola University-New Orleans, and continued to put others ahead of himself by serving as Campus Minister and band moderator in addition to fulfilling his teaching duties.
Jeff’s strong faith in God, his genuine love for all people, and his heartwarming smile touched many lives. He loved to serve through giving to the less fortunate. For years he coordinated and led students to mission trips to New Orleans, Kentucky, and Mexico. His favorite trip every year was to St. Anne’s Mission in Klagetoh, Arizona, where the Brothers of the Sacred Heart (who run Catholic High School) have a mission working on a Navajo Indian Reservation. Jeff reached out to many in his role of ministering. He had many loyal and true friends and their friendship and love were important to him.
In 2010, Jeff married the love of his life, Laura Landry, and happily settled into their life together. Tragically, soon thereafter, Jeff began a courageous battle with a rare form of cancer called Burkitt’s Lymphoma. Just one year later, on their first wedding anniversary, he passed away.
In contemplating our great loss, we — Jeff’s family and lifelong friends — felt compelled to act. As a result, we established the Barefoot Pedals Foundation (so-named to honor Jeff’s somewhat unsanitary approach to making sure he could literally feel the music as he played!). The goal of the foundations is to receive and distribute donations exclusively for charitable purposes that exemplify the values and characteristics Jeff lived his life promoting. We are proud of what we have helped make happen, in particular the Jeff Nola ’94 Memorial Scholarship Fund, but still we wanted to do more. Jeff was someone who served through action and through direct person-to-person relationships with young people. We decided that we should try to emulate this as a group. After a year of planning, we are ready to put the Bayou Footprint Initiative into action.
With your permission and your support, we would like to share Jeff’s spirit of love and giving by creating an absolutely unique five-day experience for your high school student. With the right mix of hard work and good fun, we hope to cultivate creativity, empathy and leadership skills in these young people. Through a series of creative challenges, provocative discussions and meaningful acts of volunteerism, we will work to develop a profound understanding of the phrase:
“Leadership through Mindful Action.”
We each remember a time before we found our own voices; we remember Jeff before he found his. Our greatest hope is to help put these young people on the right path toward finding theirs.