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Minnesota sneaker designer helps Vikings players highlight important causes

Twenty-nine Vikings players will wear shoes designed by Salvatore Marcum for the "My Cause, My Cleats" nonprofit awareness campaign on Sunday.

Ever since the 4th grade, Salvatore Marcum dreamed two dreams for his future.

"You know it's crazy, either an artist or professional athlete," he said.

Two distinct paths for certain, that never in his wildest dreams did he see becoming one. Until they did.

"It's really meaningful, honestly," Marcum said.

Sal makes custom sneakers and cleats for any client that comes his way. You could see them hit the pavement if you get lucky, but more of you will see them on the court, or on the field, as Sal has made shoes for NBA, WNBA and NFL players. 

And come Sunday, you will see them on the feet of 29 players on the hometown team.

"Oh yeah, I have a lot of custom cleats on the Vikings field."

This Sunday marks the 5th year of the NFL's fundraiser, "My Cause, My Cleats." More than 1,000 players, including the 29 Sal designed for on the Vikes, will wear custom-made cleats bearing the names or designs of the causes they care most about.

And if you think these are just logos, they aren't.

Sal hand paints every shoe with pin and needle precision.

And get this: once the shoe is in hand, he rarely has a concrete plan!

"I don't know, a lot comes to me as I work to be honest!" he said.

This project isn't just to look good, it's to do good.

"Athletes, they get to pick a foundation or a cause of their choice. Then we customize the cleats, make it personal and meaningful, they wear the cleats on Sunday then they auction the cleats off and donate all the proceeds to that foundation or charity of their choice," Marcum explained.

And those donations aren't chump change. After the game, these cleats auction from anywhere between $5,000 and $20,000.

So the 18-hour days for weeks at a a time, the hand cramps and the paint stains, it's all worth it for a kid who once dreamed two dreams: to be an artist or an athlete.

"You know, not to sound corny or anything like that, but it's a really good feeling to work with the hometown team to bring such an awareness for this project, let alone to do work for them an honor to be honest, can't describe it," Marcum said.

Learn more about each player's cause on the NFL's website.

Fans can bid on player cleats on the NFL's auction page.

And see more of Salvatore Marcum's designs on his Instagram page.