ATLANTIC CITY — The South Jersey sneaker enthusiast who aced out 18 million Kanye West fans in guessing the name of the rapper’s album “The Life of Pablo” in a Twitter contest this year is sponsoring a 5K charity run Saturday.
Dante Holley, 20, of Somers Point, is sponsoring the fundraiser on the Boardwalk to raise awareness of sneaker violence — deadly robberies of collectible sneakers.
“I wasn’t a victim of it, but I was inspired by a young man’s story,” Holley said.
He was referring to the fatal shooting in February of Jamal Gaines, co-owner of the Rahway (Union County) sneaker shop East Coast during an attempted robbery at the store.
Dante Holley has experienced life’s highs and lows during the past year. Now, he’s hoping to…
“He was just 21, and he was gunned down around the same time as I won the Kanye contest,” Holley said.
The phenomenon of violence over collectible sneakers has been examined in the documentary “Sneakerheadz” and the feature film “Kicks” this year.
Holley, an aspiring music producer and rapper, reached out to Gaines’ family when he heard about the shooting. Later he attended a public event with the family to speak out against violence over shoes.
Holley won a pair of Jeezy sneakers and got to attend West’s album-unveiling party in New York for guessing the album title correctly with only its acronym as a tip.
“I didn’t get to meet Kanye, but I was standing 10 feet away and we made eye contact,” Holley said. “That was cool.”
Holley was an avid collector of hard-to-find sneakers until a fire destroyed them along with his family’s Egg Harbor Township home in 2015. Afterward, he helped collect 1,000 sneakers for Soles for Souls, a nonprofit that distributes shoes to the needy.
“Having lost everything in the fire, I realized what was really important: not material things but family. So now I’m more into organizing events,” Holley said.
The 2016 Sneaker Violence 5K is a fundraiser for God’s Gift, a nonprofit in Pleasantville that invests in the future of young people, he said.
The race is scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday, beginning and ending at Kennedy Plaza, where registration will take place starting at 8 a.m.
For Dante Holley, it’s been a strange five months, the worst of times and the best.
“We’re a musical family. We’ve been watching him develop into a producer and rapper and turning things into a positive,” said Kevin Crump, of Galloway Township, Holley’s uncle. “I’m just proud of my nephew.”