Donated shoes inspiring hope across country

Dozens of people across the country are finding it easier to reach health and fitness goals after being outfitted with new running shoes thanks to a joint Brainsport/New Balance promotion run last summer.

From Aug. 1 to 31, 2020, New Balance donated two pairs of shoes to Saskatoon’s Prairie Run Crew Outreach program for every pair of shoes purchased at Brainsport.

In total, more than 300 pairs of shoes were donated to the organization, which aims to bring a message of hope to communities by hosting running clinics and delivering shoes.

The shoes have since been delivered to numerous groups and organizations including Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford, Prairie Hope Women’s Centre in Hague, Men of the North in La Ronge, Growing Young Movers in Regina, the Cree Nation of Waskaganish in Quebec, Sisika SN7 Program in Alberta and the Teen Challenge Alberta Men’s Centre.

Tarrant Cross Child, the founder of Prairie Run Crew Outreach, knows how important getting a pair of running shoes can be.

Brainsport owner Brian Michasiw gifted Cross Child some gently used shoes in 2014 when Cross Child was in a year-long in-residence rehabilitation program for alcohol and gambling addiction. Cross Child kept a pair and gave the rest to others going through treatment with him. The men started running together, which helped them feel alive amid so much hopelessness.

“It’s unfortunate that so many people are in need of a good pair of shoes. Physical activity is beneficial to the body and mental health and gifting someone a pair of shoes eliminates that barrier to physical activity,” Cross Child says. “To some, a pair of shoes can become a lifeline. Providing that opportunity is priceless.”

Thanks for the shoes and stories of the impact they are having have been shared on social media and with Brainsport directly.

At the Cree Nation of Waskaganish, the shoes are being distributed to members of a walking club. “They have a very high rate of diabetes and want to change that,” a community member posted on Facebook.

Tarrant Cross Child of Prairie Run Crew Outreach stands with a member of Men of the North, one of the recipients of donated New Balance shoes.

Nearly 50 of the shoes were sent to Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford, which serves patients from across the province who need longer-term psychiatric rehabilitation and whose needs cannot be met in local inpatient mental health facilities.

Michael Kramm, the manager of rehabilitation services for Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford, wrote to Brainsport to thank the store for the donation and explained that shoe recipients were being encouraged to increase their current level of physical activity.

“I would not put the majority of our patient population in the “running” category, but we do focus on the importance of physical activity to be a benefit to one’s physical and mental health. Many of our patients participate in daily walking programs, stretching exercises and adaptive fitness programs including seated aerobics, relaxation and gymnasium programming. They can now participate in comfort and style,” Kramm wrote.

From all of us at Brainsport, thank you to those who participated in our “Buy 1 Give 2” promotion.

For more on the Prairie Run Crew Outreach program, check out our blog post from last year.

Due to patient confidentiality the Saskatchewan Hospital North Battleford could not provide pictures of the patients and their smiles; instead it sent Brainsport shots of the shoes outside the hospital.