IRVINGTON — Emerging from the tragedy of her son's death by gunfire was understandably difficult for Elaine Lane, but she has now spent more than a decade helping young adults put their best foot forward and realize the potential their lives hold.

Lane founded the nonprofit organization David's Shoes, named after her late son, several years after his 1998 killing. The idea came to her after she visited an exhibit displaying 2,000 pairs of boots from war veterans who had been killed in combat. When invited to walk down a path lined with the shoes of ordinary people, she was emotionally overcome.

So Lane thought if she could collect the shoes of people who had been killed by gun violence, it might discourage others from using guns, and point them toward a brighter future. Once she reclaimed her son's shoes from police, that provided the initial pair to launch the program.

Lane's decades of education experience come in handy; she speaks to groups of both kids and adults and said she does "whatever it takes" to get through to them.

"I'll start off with his pair of shoes, and go to schools and talk to kids, telling his story," she said. "But the point of the story was, to honor life."

In July, David's Shoes will have its 10th annual scholarship luncheon, providing a four-year award to an urban, low-income student who has decided to pursue a college career. The group has given out $34,500 in book scholarships, also matching these prospective college students with mentors.

For Lane, David's Shoes is all about getting young people on similar paths to her son David to recognize that they matter, and should give their gifts to the world.

"Value yourself, to see the beauty that you have inside, and decide that that's important enough to show, to make good choices," she said.

Find out more about David's Shoes on Facebook or at davidsshoes.org.

Patrick Lavery is Senior Producer of Morning News and Special Programming for New Jersey 101.5, and is lead reporter and substitute anchor for "New Jersey's First News." Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com.

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