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Saucony Aims to Give Back to Young Runners

A runner changing the spikes on his Saucony cross country shoes

Childhood obesity is a growing problem in the United States, and Saucony wants to do something about it.

Propelled by inactivity and unhealthy diets, 18.5 percent of children in the country were considered obese in 2015-16, according to the most recent national obesity statistics from the Centers for Disease Control. The number of adults considered obese is more than double that: 39.8 percent.

More troubling is that the CDC reports a “significantly increasing trend” in obesity among children and adults from 1999 until now. At the turn of the millennium, the youth obesity rate sat at 13.9 percent, while 30.5 percent of adults were obese. The federal government’s new health initiative—Healthy People 2020—aims to reduce the rate of obesity for children and adults, but Saucony wants to get things moving. Now.

A man runs wearing Saucony running shoes

Through its Run For Good Foundation, Saucony gives grants to help organizations promote healthy lifestyles for kids.

“We award grants to organizations and after school programs that are all focused on delivering activity and healthy lifestyle choices to children,” says Samantha Ben-Simon, field marketing manager for Saucony.

The goal of the Run For Good Foundation is to prevent and eliminate the health threats posed by childhood obesity and to educate the public about its causes. The grants given by the foundation help fund organizations that promote running programs for kids.

“We want to empower organizations that are helping to fight (childhood obesity) in their communities,” Ben-Simon says.

Steph Blozy, owner of Fleet Feet Hartford

Fleet Feet Teams Up

One recipient of Saucony’s award was a Fleet Feet store, but it didn’t keep the money.

At The Running Event 2018—an annual conference and trade show for specialty running retailers—Saucony announced Stephanie Blozy, owner of Fleet Feet Hartford, won its annual Run For Good Award for her work with young runners in Connecticut.

Blozy highlighted two major initiatives in her application:

  • Zoomerangs is a non-competitive running program for kids. Now in its 20th year, Blozy says about 300 kids ages 3-10 run during each eight-week session. The program encourages parents to run with their kids as a way to turn the children’s run into a family run. The main program also extends to Zoomerangs on the Spectrum, which collaborates with Autism Families CONNECTicut to provide a safe and supportive environment for runners who have autism.
  • The Little Manchester Road Race acts as a graduation celebration for the fall Zoomerangs program. But it does so much more, too. The free, kids-only race is open to the community, and Blozy says organizers reach out to schools in low-income areas to introduce more kids to the power of running. Each racer gets the full race-day experience with a race bib, sweatshirt, mittens and medal.

Blozy says she applied for a Saucony grant to buy new running shoes to donate to kids from those low-income schools who were going to run the Little Manchester Road Race. But her plan changed right before she accepted the award.

Just before Blozy walked up on stage at TRE, another Fleet Feet store owner from Redding, California, asked for help supporting students from the town of Paradise, California. The town and its schools were devastated by the massive Camp Fire that recently burned more than 150,000 acres, destroyed almost 14,000 homes and killed 85 people.

Blozy says that’s when she and her sister knew what to do with the award money.

“That (money) would do something bigger and more important and more immense than what we could do (at home),” Blozy says.

With approval from Saucony, Blozy donated the $5,000 to the students of Paradise to help them get back to normal life—and back to running.

“We are very grateful to Saucony for this award, and we’re happy that they didn’t mind that we ended up forwarding the award to someone else,” Blozy says.