Olympia Teen Joel Galarza Jr., Founder of Kicks for Military Teens, Selects ‘Sneaker Shopping’ Winners


In a special episode of “Sneaker Shopping,” Complex teamed up with Kicks 4 Military Teens, an organization founded by Olympia teen Joel Galarza Jr. (17). After three years, he returned to the set of Sneaker Shopping to crown the 5th annual contest winners.

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“Sneaker Shopping” is a highly-rated pop culture television show hosted by Joe La Puma. This series follows celebrities, athletes, and fans as they browse their favorite kicks in some of the best sneaker stores around the world. Sneaker collecting continues to grow in popularity for teens and adults alike due to the wide selections of color combinations, style and celebrity recommendations.

Kicks for Military Teens Nominates JBLM Sneaker Lovers

Since appearing on the popular show in 2020 at the age of 14, Joel was inspired to found Kicks for Military Teens (K4MT), a community-driven organization that grants deserving military youth their favorite pair of sneakers.

“I wanted to create a sense of community among youth whose parents serve in the military and gift distinguished military youth a pair of their favorite sneakers,” shares Joel. “I contacted Complex, proposing to provide other military teens with the same experience I had.”

Joel Galarza Jr. sitting on a log in the woods
Lacey teen Joel Galarza Jr. founded Kicks for Military Teens to create a sense of community for dependents whose parents serve in the Armed Forces. Photo courtesy: Joel Galarza Jr.

Parents were asked to nominate their military teen dependents for a chance to win a unique sneaker-lover experience. After receiving several submissions, Joel selected Jakai (15) and Jordan (17) as most deserving for their positive contributions to the local community, academic achievements, and shared military family experiences. The young men were flown to New York City to be featured in their own exclusive episode.

Jakai Mines and Jordan Rivers, both sons of military stationed at Joint-Base Lewis-McChord, enjoyed the ultimate sneaker shopping experience at Stadium Goods in New York City with Sneaker Shopping host, Joe La Puma.

Joel Galarza Jr. (middle) and the ‘Sneaker Shopping’ 5th annual contest winners, Jakai Mines (left) and Jordan Rivers (right). Photo courtesy: Joel Galarza Jr.

Thurston County Teens Connect Through Collecting Sneakers

After meeting on the set of Complex, the three young men bonded over their favorite pairs of sneakers and their love of sneaker collecting and helping their community. They also enjoy connecting to other sneakerheads from military families.  “It’s a great way for people to bond…especially growing up having to move constantly,” shares Jordan. “Sneakers are a way for me to bond with other people and make friends, through my shoes.”

Collecting sneakers continues to be a popular hobby among sports and fashion enthusiasts and a way for youth to break the ice with new friends. “Sneakers help us come together and express ourselves,” shares Jakai. 

Joel Galarza Jr. (left) and host of ‘Sneaker Shopping,’ Joe La Puma (right). Photo courtesy: Joel Galarza Jr.

Lacey Teen Grows Olympia Charity

Joel hopes to continue making impacts through volunteering and growing K4MT after graduating from North Thurston High School. He aspires to be accepted into the University of Washington and pursue a degree in business marketing, which will enable him to continue expanding Kicks for Military Teens.

For more information about Joel Galarza Jr. and his organization, follow the Kicks for Military Teens Instagram and Facebook pages. If you’d like to nominate a sneaker fan for the Sneaker Shopping experience, learn how to apply here. Watch Joel Galarza Jr.’s full Sneaker Shopping episodes here on YouTube.

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