Robin Lewis of Fleet Feet Roanoke Offers Tips for Raising Charitable Funds

Two people run in Mizuno's Project Zero Waveknit R2
A woman wearing a Mizuno ProjectZero T-shirt

From a fun girls weekend to breast cancer research

Robin Lewis, owner of Fleet Feet Roanoke in Roanoke, Virginia, is committed to raising money for breast cancer research. But it’s not because she went through it herself. Lewis’s mother was 73 years old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and she fully recovered relatively easily. So, despite proximity to the disease, Lewis says her dedication to raising research money started somewhere else: on a fun girls weekend in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

“A group of women from one of our training programs became close friends and decided to go to Hilton Head for Pledge the Pink last year,” says Lewis. “It was not only an incredible experience, but it was also a great fundraiser for breast cancer research.”

The group of friends walked and ran a little over 30 miles in three days and had a blast doing it (a quick look at the Pledge the Pink website, and you’ll see just how much fun you could have there). So, they vowed to return the following year, but this time with a bigger goal than just having fun. This time, they would focus on spreading awareness and raising money.

The event takes place at the end of October, and the group of 18 women has already raised $5,000, according to Lewis. “And we’re having a lot of fun doing it,” she says.

How do they do it, and how can you raise money and spread breast cancer awareness in your community? We asked Robin for the beta. Here’s what she had to say:

How did you manage to raise all that money?

We’ve done some pretty unique things. One woman in our group recently held a fun and festive “Tequila Trot” at her house. It was only 1K (up and down the street from her house), so most people just walked. But she charged a $10 or $20 entry fee that went straight to the fund. She even ordered race bibs, had “Tequila Trot” printed on them and provided a frozen tequila pop for every finisher. Another couple of women are collecting donations for massaging runner’s calves after one of our weekly pub runs. Plus, the two women in our group who have raised the most money so far are in a bit of a competition with one another, so that makes it even more fun.

A woman holding a pair of pink Mizuno running shoes

How would you advise someone to start raising money themselves?

First, I’d simply suggest finding an event that you’re interested in going to for a weekend, and then create fun activities to raise money with friends.

You’ve hosted a lot of fundraisers in your store. Why do you think you’ve been so successful?

We’ve partnered a lot with our vendors, who we are very fortunate to get to work with. We’ve also found that people want to give back to the community. So, when we partner with a company—like Mizuno, Balega or New Balance to name a few—people come in the doors. We’ve raised thousands of dollars for a cause in just one weekend by running charity-driven promotions.

What about Mizuno and Project Zero?

It’s a cool program because the whole premise is to completely eliminate breast cancer. Right now, one in eight women will, at some point, have breast cancer. That’s a big number; it’s scary to think about. If we can raise money to help bring that number down to zero in eight, that’s really cool.

Project Zero is a collaboration between Fleet Feet and Mizuno to raise money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Mizuno will donate a portion of proceeds from the limited edition Project Zero Waveknit R2 running shoe and select apparel to the BCRF to advance promising research and breakthrough treatments.

More Stories from Project Zero

By Ashley Arnold. Ashley is a storyteller, ultra runner and cat person. As Fleet Feet’s content marketing manager, she manages the Fleet Feet blog and its roster of writers.