“Why are you shaking?” Robin Lewis, owner of Fleet Feet Roanoke, asked as she put new shoes on a child in our after school program.
“Because I’m just so excited,” she said.
This past week, Project Forward, a non-profit run by Fleet Feet, outfitted all 40 after school participants at Eureka Recreation Center with brand new shoes and socks. Project Forward’s mission is “to allow the citizens of Roanoke to have access to good shoes and a means to move, ultimately creating a healthier community.”
About a month ago, our staff met with Robin Lewis and Joe Dudak of Fleet Feet to talk about the possibility of getting shoes to all 120 children in our program. They decided to start with Eureka, and they wanted it to be a surprise. In order to do that, they had to be a little sneaky.
Part of the after school program curriculum is providing kids the opportunity to experience a wide variety of activities, so one of those experiences was a professional shoe fitting. Fleet Feet/Project Forward brought their portable foot scanner and measured each child’s foot, and this information was digitally saved. “They were amazed at how the scanner was able to get a 3-D image of their foot. They’d never seen anything like that before,” Jason Hairston, one of the administrators at the Eureka Recreation Center, said.
Last week, Lewis and staff returned to Eureka with 40 pairs of news shoes and socks. They told the kids that there had been some sort of “mistake” at the shop where one of the staff members saw the shoe list and thought it was an order, so they filled it. Fleet Feet staff didn’t know what to do with all of these extra shoes, so they decided they’d give them to all the kids at Eureka.
“When they came back with the shoes, the kids were ecstatic,” Hairston, mentioned. “Two of my kids attend the program as well, and when they woke up the next day, they immediately put their new shoes back on.” Another staff member noted that several parents were brought to tears when they saw this “Christmas miracle.”
We are so thankful to the staff at Fleet Feet and Project Forward. Not only does this help an under-served population of our community, but it removes barriers for these children to be active and live a healthier lifestyle. You are helping us build a better community through play!